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NFL OWNERS COME AWAY CONVINCED OF CLEVELAND'S FINANCING
Published January 5, 1996
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).