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MICHAEL OVITZ EMERGES AS NEW FORCE TO LAND L.A. FRANCHISE
Published March 23, 1998
NFL owners are "expected to award" Cleveland an expansion franchise as early as this week, leaving Houston and L.A. "in a match race to become the NFL's 32nd franchise," according to T.J. Simers of the L.A. TIMES. But Simers wrote that L.A.'s New Coliseum Partners (NCP), "who have been running in place for the last two years ... could be passed by a new prospect just as the competition is officially set to begin." Michael Ovitz "has caught the fancy of NFL officials with a San Francisco 49er-like plan for a stadium and shopping mall" in Carson, CA. The Carson site "has been advanced successfully in recent weeks" by Ovitz, who has been working with an OH-based mall developer. One "high-ranking" NFL source: "It's a little early yet, but this project appears to have a lot of potential." Simers: "At no time during its dogged campaign ... have the [NCP] received such an NFL endorsement." The NCP "appear to also have fallen behind Hollywood Park, which recently altered its strategy to the NFL's satisfaction." It "proposed selling a 30-acre piece of property to the NFL, or any NFL- designated owner interested in constructing a stadium on the site." While some NFL owners remain interested in the Dodger Stadium site, the NFL has "been advised" by the Fox Group that their "attention will be directed solely on improving Dodger Stadium" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22). LONGER TIMETABLE? In Houston, John Williams writes that league owners "warned" yesterday that it "could be as long as two years before a decision" is made on the 32nd team. While "several" owners said Houston is ahead of L.A. in getting a new football stadium in place, "league owners will give [L.A.] all the time it needs to put together a stadium plan." Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen: "We're talking about a couple of years, at least" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/23).