SBD/5/Leagues Governing Bodies

NFL OWNERS COME AWAY CONVINCED OF CLEVELAND'S FINANCING

     A panel of 14 NFL owners on hand for a presentation by
Cleveland Mayor Michael White "came away convinced that the
city's $175 million plan to renovate 65-year-old Cleveland
Stadium is solid."  But, as Bart Hubbuch of the Akron BEACON
JOURNAL notes, the message from the owners to White was:
"Replace, don't rebuild."  NFL President Neil Austrian, who
presided over the Atlanta meeting:  "The consensus of our group
is that the $175 million is rock solid.  But you also have to ask
whether it makes sense -- if you're going to spend $715 million -
- to rebuild a stadium that was built in the 1930s."  White said
their decision to renovate was based on the request of Browns
Owner Art Modell.  But he said he told the NFL "we would not
close our minds to any alternative."  Austrian described the
proposal that another team move to Cleveland as merely an
"afterthought" because of the implications of having another
abandoned city.  White "surprised" the committee by saying they
would even welcome Modell back, calling it a "small price to pay"
to keep the Browns (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/5).  However, White
ruled out the idea of letting the Browns go under the condition
Cleveland would get another team at a later date.  White:  "That
is DOA" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/5).
     NO DEAL:  Cleveland officials also denied reports that the
city would negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the Browns,
an idea originally floated by Maryland Stadium Authority Chair
John Moag.  Nancy Lesic, Press Secretary for Mayor White:  "This
is just a desperate attempt by John Moag to turn public opinion
around in his favor, and I don't think that's going to happen"
(Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 1/5).
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