SBD/15/Franchises

WASHINGTON FILES SUIT AGAINST BEHRING TO KEEP SEAHAWKS

     The state of WA has filed an antitrust suit against Seahawks
Owner Ken Behring.  The suit contends he violated state and
federal antitrust laws in moving the team to L.A. and that
"Washington's economy and public welfare would be harmed."  ESPN
later reported that state officials have estimates that the
economic impact of the loss of the team is around $100M
("SportsCenter," 2/14).  King County Exec Gary Locke:  "This
lawsuit today by the Attorney General's office tightens this
community's grip on its football team" ("Sports Tonight," CNN,
2/14).  WA Atty General Christine Gregoire said the lawsuit did
not seek monetary damages, but she held put the possibility the
state could ask for more than $3B from Behring.  In L.A.,
Behring's lawyer, Bill Temko, called it "just another step in a
political barrage to vilify Mr. Behring" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY
NEWS, 2/15).
     WHY THE LONG FACE?  In an interview with the LONG BEACH
PRESS-TELEGRAM, Behring said he is "perplexed by the cool
reception he has been given in Los Angeles."  Behring:
"Normally, when a NFL team moves to a new city, that city gets
behind it.  But that certainly hasn't been the case since we
decided to move to L.A."  He expressed confidence they would play
in L.A., but he added, "It could get to a point where there is so
much opposition that I'll say, 'The heck with it,' and go in
another direction.  Life is just too short to put up with all
this stuff" (LONG BEACH PRESS  TELEGRAM /PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS,
2/15).  In L.A., Mike Downey writes recent words from NFL
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue have him "convinced" the Seahawks
will stay in Seattle.  Downey "strongly suspects" Cleveland and
L.A. will be the NFL's expansion franchises in '99 (L.A. TIMES,
2/14).
     AD HOC:  The L.A. City Council will form a committee to lure
a football team to L.A. and broaden the panel to include members
of other key local groups, according to the L.A. TIMES.  The
council panel will be called the "Ad Hoc Sports Franchise
Committee" and will negotiate for other pro teams.  The expanded
committee will include members of the Coliseum Commission, the
mayor's staff and the L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau (L.A.
TIMES, 2/14).
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