SBD/18/Franchises

IN AFTERMATH OF RAMS MOVE, TALK OF MUSICAL FRANCHISES

     In the wake of the NFL's approval of the Rams' move to St.
Louis, weekend reports centered on rumors the NFL is considering
moving as many as three franchises to fill the now-open L.A.
market.  "Crazy or not ... there is talk of swapping franchises,"
writes S.A. Paolantonio in Philadelphia.  One unnamed NFL source
mentioned two possible scenarios:  The Bengals to Baltimore; or
the Bengals to Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, with the Eagles
moving to L.A.  Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie called that report
"absolute nonsense."  Bengals President & GM Mike Brown: "I have
not heard that, and I find that fairly strained."  But Oilers
Owner Bud Adams said there "has been some talk of it."  Adams:
"It's a helluva market out there.  My lease is up in two years.
I may want to take a look at L.A. myself."  Another NFC owner
said the Eagles "always come up in these discussions," but added
that owners are "not stupid enough" to move the Eagles out of
Philadelphia's No. 4 media market.  The league wants an NFC team
in L.A., and Lurie, a movie producer, "would seem a perfect fit."
But Paolantonio writes that moving the Eagles "seems heretical
even for the NFL's relentless pursuit of TV revenue"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/15).  Fox Sports Spokesperson Vince
Wladika called the Eagles rumor "baseless and groundless":  "Why
would we want a team leaving the No. 4 market?" (Mike Bruton,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/18).  The "message" the Bengals' Brown
took from the Rams vote was that "if a team wants to move, the
NFL isn't going to fight it.  Even if the team wants to come to
Baltimore," according to Vito Stellino in Baltimore.  On the
Eagles, Stellino speculates if Raiders Owner Al Davis gets a new
stadium at Hollywood Park, "Lurie could share it in this
scenario" (Baltimore SUN, 4/16).
     RAIDERS GO HOLLYWOOD:  The L.A. DAILY NEWS reports that the
league will grant at least two Super Bowls and a "undisclosed sum
of money" within the next two weeks to help build a Hollywood
Park facility that would be home to UCLA and the Raiders (SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 4/15).  In discussions with NFL owners about
building a stadium at Hollywood Park, Davis said $60M could be
raised from the sale of PSL's.  But Davis also would want three
Super Bowls within a 10-year span, with 10,000 seats for each
Super Bowl "set aside" for luxury and club seat buyers in
addition to the 8,000 regularly reserved for the host team.
Davis reportedly will not let an NFC team share the facility.
The Raiders stadium situation "will remain in the air" until the
May league meetings in Jacksonville (Will McDonough, BOSTON
GLOBE, 4/16).  An L.A. TIMES editorial states "it's hard to argue
with the logic" of the proposed Hollywood Park deal, citing the
private financing and the boost to the economy from future Super
Bowls (L.A. TIMES, 4/16).
     IS FOX A WINNER OR LOSER?  Despite losing L.A., Fox will
"escape with little or no ratings damage over the remaining three
years of its contract," according to Jim Thomas in St. Louis.
Thomas writes the rebate was a "phantom issue" since there was no
provision in Fox's contract stating they had to have a team in
L.A. (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/16).  But in New York, Steve
Zipay sees Fox as a big "loser," as is KTTV, Fox's L.A.
affiliate.  Zipay's Winners:  NBC, which televises AFC games and
has the rights to the Raiders; and Logo Athletic, which has
exclusive rights to St. Louis Rams apparel (NEWSDAY, 4/14).
Possible "restitution" for Fox will "likely come in subsequent
seasons, and potentially, on a non-cash basis" (Thomas Tyrer,
ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 4/17 issue).  Fox Sports' Wladika wouldn't
respond to reports the NFL "promised" Fox a $12M rebate.  He did
say talks between the network and league were "ongoing" (Mike
Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/18).
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