SBD/3/Franchises

THE CRAB POUND? RUMORS PERSIST ABOUT BALTIMORE BROWNS

     Baltimore TV station WBAL reported yesterday that the Browns
and the state of MD had reached a "handshake" agreement to have
the team move to Baltimore to play next season ("SportsCenter,"
ESPN, 11/2).  However, a headline in today's Cleveland PLAIN
DEALER states, "Modell declares the Browns not for sale to
squelch rumor."  Browns Owner Art Modell was "evasive" in a
direct response, but David Hopcraft, a spokesperson for Modell,
called the report of a deal a "bum story" (Cleveland PLAIN
DEALER, 11/3).
     FROM CHARM CITY:  Neither the Maryland Stadium Authority nor
the Browns would comment on talks, but sources say the Browns
"are believed" to have signed an outline for an agreement to move
the team to Baltimore in time for next season, according to this
morning's Baltimore SUN.  The news comes as Cleveland officials
"scrambled" yesterday to move forward in efforts push for passage
of a referendum on a $170M renovation of Cleveland Stadium.  Pro-
stadium "Go Cleveland Committee" President Andy Juniewicz:
"We're obviously trying to put this rumor to rest."  Juniewicz
also noted the rumors may be an attempt to "drum up" support for
Tuesday's vote (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 11/3).  MD Gov. Parris
Glendening held a "hastily arranged" lunch yesterday in Annapolis
with Maryland Stadium Authority President John Moag and several
top aides.  When asked about the lunch, Glendening smiled and
said they discussed college basketball, adding, "We can't
negotiate any type of deal or arrangement by way of media, and I
will not make any specific comments until we are able to stand up
with a signed contract."  The SUN's Morgan notes sources familiar
with the talks say Moag is preparing for a press conference on
Monday (BALTIMORE SUN, 11/3).  ESPN's Chris Mortensen also
reported Browns officials denied the WBAL report that a
"handshake deal" is in place ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/2).
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