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).