SBD/27/Franchises

FALCONS OWNER RANKIN SMITH SR. DIES AT AGE 72

          Falcons Owner & Chair Rankin Smith Sr. died in Atlanta
     yesterday at the age of 72.  In Atlanta, Len Pasquarelli
     writes that Smith "was remembered by colleagues Sunday as a
     visionary who pioneered the rise of professional sports
     franchises in the South," and remained one of the few
     "'family' stewards in a sport in which corporate ownership
     has increased."  Smith, who purchased the Falcons in '65 for
     $8.5M, was regarded around the NFL as a "mainstream" owner
     who "rarely bucked the agendas of commissioners ... and
     generally placed the good of the league above that of the
     Falcons" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).  Soto & Payne write
     that Smith "was the driving force behind the construction of
     the Georgia Dome," and was "credited" with bringing two Super
     Bowls games to Atlanta (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).
          TEAM'S FUTURE: Pasquarelli also reports that "there were
     no signs" on Sunday that Smith's death "would result in the
     sale" of the team.  Smith said recently that he had purchased
     several high-premium insurance policies "to assist his heirs
     in dealing with the sort of estate tax problems that have
     plagued other franchises" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/27).

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Atlanta Falcons, Franchises, NFL

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