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NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the NFL is not looking at legal action keep the Rams in the L.A. area. Tagliabue: "We're not angling for litigation, we're not trying to stoke any litigation." These comments come in response to Rams President John Shaw's comments that the Rams might sign a short-term lease in Anaheim "if the league tries to block a move to St. Louis." If a franchise moves, Tagliabue said he would "make an in-depth review, make a report to the ownership, and then see what their opinions are based upon whatever report I make." If the Rams make a request to move, Tagliabue said, "We will be looking very carefully at the fan support, the booster support, and all aspects of that as we approach any application the Rams make. If they make one." He did say that recent legal decisions on franchise relocation "clarified the approach the league could take on such matters" (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/16). Tagliabue was asked about an NFL-backed, football-only stadium in L.A. and why the league wouldn't help other teams such as the Bucs: "The conditions in Los Angeles are unique and those are the conditions that led us to set forth the concept for league involvement of a Super Bowl-related stadium in L.A. At this juncture, I don't think those conditions exist in any other coummunity" (Vito Stellino, Baltimore SUN, 12/16).
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue held a national conference call yesterday in which he said the league is optimistic the Buccaneers will stay in Tampa. Tagliabue responded to statements by Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, who Wednesday called the Bucs "eminently moveable." Tagliabue: "We're more optimistic in terms of the Tampa community keeping the team than Peter Angelos seems to be. ... (Angelos) seems to feel the team in Tampa Bay hasn't been supported. ... Our attitude has been quite different from that. We feel the Super Bowl games played in Tampa were extremely well-supported." Tagliabue did say the league would not become involved in financing a new stadium in Tampa or helping with renovations (Stroud & Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/16). CROSS-OWNERSHIP: NFL policy prohibits cross-ownership of other major pro sports franchises, and Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner and Angelos would "need a major change in league rules if they want to buy the Bucs." The league has ruled that Wayne Huizenga (who also owns the Panthers and Marlins) can run the Dolphins for two years, although technically the team is owned by a trust until June 1, '96. Tagliabue will review the Dolphins ownership at that time and could force the trust to buy Huizenga's stake. Browns Owner Art Modell: "The rules against cross-ownership are pretty strict. There's a lot of sentiment not to change our rules." Tagliabue said "it would not be possible for an owner in another sports to purchase" an NFL team, "unless there was some type of interim adjustment made," but he added, "We are continuing to reasses it." Steinbrenner would not comment on cross ownership, but Angelos "hinted" he would sell the Orioles if necessary: "I think we'd be willing to accept the conditions given to Huizenga, where they'd tell him he might have to divest himself" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/16). KING GEORGE SPEAKS: Steinbrenner on his interest in the team: "(We) are deadly serious about this, if we can make it have economic sense. ... We have the finances and the desire, but I cannot recommend a bad deal to my investors" (Tom McEwen, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/16).
Season-tickets sales are not the only requirement that the Raptors and Grizzlies must meet to keep the NBA happy. Apparently "firm arena plans and broadcasting deals" also have to be finalized by the end of the year. One well-informed league- level source told Neil Campbell of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL that, "technically, the league could still revoke if all the terms aren't met. There's a lot of impatience with the people in Toronto and their arena situation. They don't have a TV deal done yet in Vancouver but that is not as serious as the Toronto situation." The Raptors want to have their arena at a downtown site, but there is no guarantee that the problem would be solved by December 31. In Vancouver, local TV rights have not been sold, but owner Arthur Griffiths' family has "extensive broadcast holdings throughout B.C. and Alberta," and the team is "apparently headed" for a radio deal with an FM station owned by the Griffiths. One broadcast source reports that the Grizzlies are asking a C$1 million for the radio rights (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/16).