SBD/24/Leagues Governing Bodies

AFTER THE MISTAKE BY THE LAKE, CLEVELAND GETS EXPANSION TEAM

          When NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced last
     evening that the new Browns franchise will enter the league
     in '99 as an expansion team, the decision "caught many
     attending the league meetings by surprise," according to
     Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER.  It "followed
     roughly one hour of discussion on the subject" by team
     owners and "concluded a down-and-up day that began with
     Cleveland officials fearing a delay."  Speculation had the
     league "unprepared to commit to expansion this week," but
     the owners "retreated to their meeting room, and everything
     seemed to change."  Finally, "no vote was taken, but no
     owner dissented" on the expansion decision.  Tagliabue
     credited Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson for "leading the
     discussion on expanding and swaying owners."  Steelers
     President Dan Rooney said Ravens Owner Art Modell also
     "played a prominent role."  Grossi notes "two other
     surprises" in the announcement: The Browns' debut will come
     at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton against the
     Cowboys in August of '99; and Joe Mack, former Assistant GM
     of the Panthers, will be the Browns' Player Personnel
     Director (Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 3/24).  While no expansion
     fee has been finalized, some NFL owners "have already"
     floated a $350-$500M fee (Cleveland PLAIN-DEALER, 3/24).
          BURIED LEGACY: In Akron, David Adams writes the
     expansion decision ends "the chance of Cleveland getting a
     relocated team" and also "helps bury the painful legacy left
     behind by the abrupt 1995 decision by Art Modell to move his
     team to Baltimore."  Modell: "I was one of the people who
     wanted to get this done" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/24).
          WHO WILL BE 32? Tagliabue said that the owners will
     hold talks today concerning the next round of expansion,
     mentioning L.A., Houston and Toronto as cities vying to be
     the 32nd team.  In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger says Toronto's
     inclusion "caught everyone ... off-guard" as its chances
     "never had been put forward in this manner by Tagliabue"
     (TORONTO SUN, 3/24).  In Houston, John Williams calls the
     decision "good news" for that city's bid, as had the league
     moved an existing team to Cleveland, "it was possible that
     league owners would not expand at all," as it would mean
     sharing TV revenues (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/24). Saints Owner
     Tom Benson, on future expansion: "Oh, man.  You're looking
     at a few more years for those teams" (USA TODAY, 3/24).

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