MICHAEL OVITZ EMERGES AS NEW FORCE TO LAND L.A. FRANCHISE
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).