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The City of Miami has entered into a use agreement with the All American Football League (AAFL) to play in the Orange Bowl starting in March of '99. The AAFL signed a five-year agreement with a renewal option (City of Miami). In Miami, Barry Jackson reports the league "won't pay any rent, but the city will retain a $1 ticket surcharge and collect parking and concession revenues." Miami Mayor Joe Carollo said that the city "expects to make $740,000 each year if the team averages 18,000 fans. The city will also sell corporate naming rights to the Orange Bowl and keep revenues." The AAFL has also signed a lease for a Dallas team to play at the Cotton Bowl (MIAMI HERALD, 10/15).
MLB: While MLB owners are scheduled to hold a conference call on realignment today, the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL is reporting that it is "likely another extension" on a final decision will be announced today. A source told Tom Haudricourt that Acting Commissioner Bud Selig is "expected to announce a two-week extension to allow" the Royals "more time" to decide if they want to switch to the NL. If the Royals don't switch, the Brewers "will move to the NL in their place" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/15). NBA: In N.Y., gossip columnists Rush & Molloy report that NBA Commissioner David Stern and Michael Jordan's agent, David Falk, "have begun talks about Jordan's farewell tour." NBA Dir of Sports Media Relations Chris Brienza: "Any conjecture about a farewell tour may be getting ahead of ourselves." Falk, through a spokesperson, also called plans for a farewell tour "off base" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/15). With the Bulls in Paris for the McDonald's Championships, L'Equipe, the French sports journal, had 22 pages devoted to coverage of the Bulls under the header, "The Jordan Frenzy" (Lacy Banks, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/15). In Chicago, Sam Smith writes the Bulls came to Paris "and Paris yawned" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/15) In N.Y., Lisa Olson reports that McDonald's in France has placed a "Chicago Bulls Meal" on their menu (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/15).
A group attempting to get an NFL franchise for L.A. "presented a financial plan" for a new Coliseum to members of the league's stadium committee yesterday in Washington, DC, according to Leonard Shapiro of the WASHINGTON POST. It included a return to pro football to L.A. by 2001. NHL Kings Owner and NFL group leader Ed Roski made the presentation along with L.A. City Councilmember Mark Ridley- Thomas. Roski's plan calls for a Coliseum that would seat 68,000 "for most football games," but could expand to 80,000 for other events. Roski also asked for a March '98 deadline from the league so "we can both have a direction of where we're going" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/15). In L.A., T.J. Simers reports the group "left feeling pretty good. ... But behind closed doors, the NFL talked about dissolving the 13-month exclusive arrangement" with the L.A. group. Such a move "would appear to open the door" for Hollywood Park, South Park and Rupert Murdoch. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said that the "matter of exclusivity was only being discussed at this time." But Simers reports that "since the subject came up only minutes after the new Coliseum group's attempt to dazzle league executives, it was a clear indication that the NFL is not ready to break ground in Exposition Park" (T.J. Simers, L.A. TIMES, 10/15). A COMBO MEAL PLEASE: CNN/SI's Peter King reported last night that NFL owners received word "from the league that they would really like to get a combination deal going here -- a deal to extend the collective bargaining agreement through at least the year 2007 and also a deal to extend the television contract, which is being negotiated right now for the next four years, for as long as eight years [through 2005]." King added the NFL wants to "put themselves in position to have labor peace and television rights peace for the next eight years" which would put them "far above every other league" and give "them the strength ... to plan for the long-term NFL future" ("CNN/SI," CNN, 10/14). BIG GATE BY THE LAKE: In Akron, David Adams reports that Browns Trust President William Futterer made a "brief" presentation to the owners. He reported the team has secured applications for more than 52,000 season tickets. Of the stadium's 116 suites, 85 have been sold, including all of the $125,000-a-year suites. NFL Dir of Club Administration Joe Ellis said that a new team in Cleveland would immediately be "among the top third of the league's most lucrative teams." The league will likely decide if Cleveland will receive an expansion or existing team in March "or later" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/15). Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said yesterday "the prudent thing to do is to have teams that are not economically viable be allowed to move. ... Do we want to water down the league with more teams? ... I don't think so" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/15). COLD RAIN AND SNOW: Tagliabue said that the NFL will "put together guidelines to determine whether it's feasible to play a Super Bowl in an open-air, northern stadium." Tagliabue said DC, Baltimore and Seattle have expressed interest in holding the game. In Baltimore, Vito Stellino writes Tagliabue "was noncommittal on his opinion of playing the Super Bowl at a cold-weather site," and Stellino adds that it's "possible ... coming up with guidelines is simply a polite way to kill the idea" (Baltimore SUN, 10/15). FOR EVERY SEASON, TURN, TURN, TURN: Owners also discussed starting the '98 regular season a week later to avoid Labor Day weekend and reducing the preseason from four to three games, according to Nick Pugliese of the TAMPA TRIBUNE. Starting the season a week later would eliminate the off-week during the Super Bowl (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/15).
In the second week of the St. Louis Convention and Visitor Commission's (CVC) $130M antitrust suit against the NFL, CVC lawyers "tried to prove that the league has acted arbitrarily and inconsistently in charging relocation fees," according to William Lhotka of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. On Tuesday, the jury watched a videotape interview of former NFL Exec VP/General Counsel Jay Moyer explaining the league's process in determining fees for previously relocated teams. He testified that the Raiders and Colts did not have to pay a fee when they relocated during the early 80s, but that the NFL levied a fee against Cardinals Owner Bill Bidwill when he moved from St. Louis to Phoenix in '88. Lhotka adds that Bidwill's fee was paid "more than three years after the league approved the move," and the $7.5M he paid "was the result of negotiations with the NFL, not from a specific formula the league adopted." CVC attorneys argued that the next NFL relocation fee assessed against the Rams was for $46M, $29M up front and $17M over 15 years. The CVC "says the league conspired to force St. Louis into paying too much to get the Rams." During the trial, the NFL has stated that it is "blameless and has accused the Rams of greediness" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/15).