SBD/22/Franchises

SEATTLE OPTION PLAY: ALLEN PURCHASES RIGHT TO BUY SEAHAWKS

     Paul Allen, owner of the NBA Blazers and co-founder of
Microsoft, signed a deal late Saturday giving him the "exclusive
option" to buy the Seahawks from Ken Behring until July 1, 1997,
according to the SEATTLE TIMES.  The agreement, which "ensures"
the team will play in Seattle next season, is contingent upon
Behring and King County suspending lawsuits against each other.
A "key factor" in whether Allen exercises his option is how much
progress is made toward renovation of the Kingdome or the
building of a new stadium.  While Behring will continue to be
majority owner, all ownership decisions will be "mutually
decided."  Blazers President & GM Bob Whitsitt is expected to
become involved in Seahawks operations.  He said they look
forward to "solidifying" the team in the area "without guns to
anybody's head" (Seven & Almond, SEATTLE TIMES, 4/21).
     DETAILS:  Allen has established Football Northwest Inc. to
handle all Seahawk matters (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/21).  The WASHINGTON
POST's Leonard Shapiro reports the option was for 25% of the
total value of $200M, a record price for an NFL franchise.  If
the Kingdome is not improved to his liking, Allen has the right
to sell his share back to Behring (WASHINGTON POST, 4/21).  But
Rebecca Boren of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER reports Allen is
paying "at least 10% of the eventual sales price"-- estimated to
be at $180M or more.  Boren calls the Kingdome "a big, white,
concrete barrier sitting smack" in Allen's way (SEATTLE P-I,
4/21).    LEAGUE REAX:  The deal is also contingent upon the NFL
changing cross-ownership rules.  Currently, NFL rules also
prohibit minority interests from being involved in the day-to-day
operations.  For now, though, the NFL seems "thrilled" with the
possibility of the Seahawks staying in Seattle.  A league
statement congratulated both Allen and Behring on the deal (T.J.
Simers, L.A. TIMES, 4/21).  NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and
the Finance Committee have recently said they want to update
league rules allowing for cross-ownership within an area -- and
because the Blazers are a Northwest team, Allen would fit the
guidelines being considered (Clayton & Foster, Tacoma NEWS
TRIBUNE, 4/20).
     LOCAL REAX:  King County Exec Gary Locke:  "We will have to
find out the terms of the agreement, but we are very willing to
look at the Kingdome issues" (Seven & Almond, SEATTLE TIMES,
4/21).  TIMES columnist Steve Kelly calls Allen a "comic book
superhero coming to Seattle's rescue and saving football. ...
Throw him a parade.  Raise a banner in his honor.  Buy some
season tickets, for crying out loud" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/21).
ESPN's Chris Mortensen:  "The Seattle community needs to build a
stadium.  The NFL is going to pressure them or else that will go
back to Behring and they may end up in L.A." ("NFL Draft '96,"
4/21).  Seahawk President David Behring apologized to the
community and the club's staff for the "turmoil, anger,
frustration" of the "last couple months" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/21).
     O.C. LEFT IN LURCH:  The option purchase by Allen means
Orange County's bid to lure the Seahawks to Anaheim is
"extinguished."  Though a Seahawks-to-Anaheim move now seems
unlikely, Orange County Football boosters will continue to press
for an NFL team (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/21).
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