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BROWNS TO ANNOUNCE THEIR MOVE TO BALTIMORE TODAY
Published November 6, 1995
Browns Owner Art Modell will attend a press conference in Baltimore today at 12:30pm to announce a deal in principal to move his team to that city for next season. Modell will be joined by MD Gov. Parris Glendening, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Maryland Stadium Authority Chair John Moag in the parking lot of Camden Yards, next to the site of a proposed $200M football- only stadium. THE DEAL: According to this morning's Baltimore SUN, Modell has already signed a 30-year lease to play in Baltimore starting in '96 and could receive up to $75M to cover expenses associated with the move. Moag would not name the team, but did confirm the details of an agreement. Under the deal, the Browns would play in a 70,000-seat open-air stadium with 108 luxury boxes and 7,500 club seats; the team gets all concession, parking and signage revenue and pays no rent; the team is responsible for operations and maintenance costs (likely $3-4M a year); PSLs will be sold to a maximum of $80M, of which the team will get $75 for costs associated with the move, including a new $15M practice facility; the team will play at Memorial Stadium in '96 and '97, with capacity there increased to 60-65,000; the deal includes "no guarantees or upfront money." The SUN's Vito Stellino writes the lack of guarantees means the Baltimore deal "isn't as lucrative" as Oakland, St. Louis or Nashville and that Modell "is making a huge financial bet on the appetite of Baltimore fans" (Baltimore SUN, 11/6). THE NEW STADIUM: The $200M stadium will be financed by state bonds backed by lottery, stadium and ticket-tax revenues. Potential problems include the loss of parking for Camden Yards, $2M in renovation costs to Memorial Stadium, and possible compensation for the CFL Stallions, who do not have an exclusive lease. A "less likely possibility" is for the Browns to play at Camden Yards for '96 and '97, although that would require the permission of the Orioles (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 11/5). HOW THE DEAL WAS DONE: Most of the talks were conducted between Moag and Browns minority investor Alfred Lerner. The deal was signed October 27 on Lerner's private plane at BWI Airport. Moag said after Baltimore was rejected by the Bengals in June, he opened negotiations with three teams -- which sources say were the Browns, Buccaneers and Cardinals (Vito Stellino, Baltimore SUN, 11/6). ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "It's a big financial package. Modell gets a $50 million signing bonus and he's about to buy out a disgruntled minority partner with it. Naturally, there is outrage in Cleveland, but Modell has privately warned the city that this day was coming" ("NFL GameDay," 11/5). Will McDonough said Modell "wanted to wait until after the season was over, but two other teams, Tampa Bay and Arizona, were moving quickly in front of him and were going to take the deal in Baltimore. This is by far the most lucrative deal ever given anybody in the NFL" (NBC, 11/5).