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SEAHAWKS SHOCK NFL WITH PLANS TO MOVE TO VACANT L.A. MARKET
Published February 2, 1996
The Seahawks are expected to announce, possibly as early as today, that they will move to L.A. and play in the Rose Bowl while a new stadium is built. ESPN reported Owner Ken Behring "has apparently not made any long-term commitment on his real intent in relocating -- that would be a new stadium somewhere in the L.A. area." Keith Olbermann noted, "The group ready to build now in Hollywood Park across from the L.A. Forum is still the favorite in that. Anaheim, former home of the Rams, is also a possibility." King County Exec Gary Locke would not comment on the specifics of their meetings yesterday, other than to say that they planned to meet again today. On the early "SportsCenter," Bob Ley called the Rose Bowl "hardly a long-term solution for an NFL team." He added the team wants to have an "interactive theme park" at any new stadium site and that Seahawks will open an office in Anaheim ("SportsCenter," 2/1). Seahawks President David Behring: "We made our case to the officials here, but there was never any effort to grant us relief" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/2). ALL THE ROSE KNOWS IS WHAT THEY READ: Despite the team's intention to play in Pasadena in the interim, Rose Bowl officials said "they have never had conversations with the team." Al Moses, President of the Rose Bowl's operating company: "As you know, we're in the market for a transition team. That's well known around the league and among owners. We have not had any specific talk with Seattle, but a team could play here as the facility presently exists. It would take some existing mitigation of traffic and parking and some improvements, including a new scoreboard and new video boards, but it could be done" (L.A. TIMES, 2/2). ALL SHOOK UP: The Behrings are expected to make a "compelling argument" that they should be released from the final ten years of their Kingdome lease, according to Len Pasquarelli in Atlanta. They arrived at a meeting with local officials with a report that showed it might take an additional $90M to bolster the dome against earthquakes (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/1). Thursday's Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE reported that King County has commissioned its own report on renovations (not due until mid- February), but County Exec Gary Locke said they did not expect costs to be any higher than projected. In addition to seismic protection, the team wants another $150M in improvements to make the dome "more profitable" (Foster & Clayton, Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/2). Locke, quoted yesterday: "The things that the Seahawks have asked for at the Kingdome are things that other tenants have asked for like elevators, escalators, more bathrooms, wider concourses" ("Sports Tonight," CNN 2/1). NFL REACTION: NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello, reached in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl, said he was not aware of the situation, but he did note that owners voted last year that the L.A. market would be controlled by all 30 franchises (AP/ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/2). NFL Senior VP/ Communications Joe Browne said only that the Seahawks had not formally petitioned the league for relocation (Timothy Smith, N.Y. TIMES, 2/2). The L.A. TIMES reports league officials were preparing a statement in anticipation for a possible Seahawks announcement today. T.J. Simers reports, "The league is expected to denounce such a move and remind the Seahawks' owner that his fellow owners agreed to go in a different direction in Los Angeles" (L.A. TIMES, 2/2). In Baltimore, Vito Stellino writes the Seahawks "stunned the pro football world." One team exec: "If the league had six eyes they'd all be black" (Baltimore SUN, 2/2).