SBD/19/Franchises

LERNER THE FAVORITE GOING INTO NFL'S "DOG-AND-PONY SHOW"

          Today is the day that "seven aspiring owners of the
     Browns pitch themselves in front of all 30 NFL team owners"
     in Atlanta, according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland PLAIN
     DEALER.  Grossi: "No prize is awarded at the end of the day,
     but a good presentation could sway some votes when the owner
     is selected in another month."  Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver:
     "I think it's kind of a dog-and-pony show. ... We all will
     form opinions and impressions.  And when it comes right down
     to it, it seems to me what they say and what they present
     will become fairly significant.  Because in the final
     analysis, there won't be a great disparity in the bids." 
     Grossi writes that while the first bids are "signed and
     sealed," the second bids -- due after each applicant visits
     the NFL "data room" in New York -- will "separate the
     field."  If the bids "are close," an NFL owner speculated
     within $50M of each other, "factors such as Cleveland
     connections, minority participation and likability could
     play a larger role."  Through a draw from a hat, Cleveland
     developer Bart Wolstein will go first (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19). 
     Wolstein: "From what I've been reading, the price is going
     to be the most important thing" (BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  
          WHO ARE THE ODDS-ON FAVORITES? Grossi reports that
     while Al Lerner "looks like the front runner ... nothing is
     always what it seems in the NFL" (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).  USA
     TODAY's Gordon Forbes lays his odds, putting Lerner at 3-1;
     Wolstein at 7-2; Charles/Larry Dolan at 9-2; Howard Milstein
     at 6-1; Richard Jacobs at 10-1; Thomas Murdough at 15-1; and
     Jeremy Jacobs at 25-1 (USA TODAY, 8/19).  In an AKRON BEACON
     JOURNAL survey, Murdough was the fans' pick to become the
     Browns' owner, receiving 27% of the vote.  The Dolans got
     22%; Lerner 16%; Wolstein 14%; Milstein 12% and Richard
     Jacobs 4.5%.  Lerner "drew the strongest response, both pro
     and con" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/19).  In St. Pete, Hubert
     Mizell calls Lerner the "best bet" (ST. PETE TIMES, 8/19).
          STADIUM LOAN: With a 5-2 vote, OH's Controlling Board
     approved a $21.8M loan to help finish the Browns' stadium. 
     The loan -- "in effect, a cash advance on a state
     construction budget" -- will be repaid with stadium aid
     appropriated in the November budget (PLAIN DEALER, 8/19).

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