In return, the city will get to keep the Browns' name, colors and records for use by another team that the league promises to bring to the city, through expansion or relocation, by 1999.
The agreement specifies that if an existing team is moved to Cleveland,
the club cannot be breaking its lease and must meet the NFL's eight-point
relocation criteria, which measure community support and financial viability.
Also, the new club must sign a 30-year lease. Fred Nance, lead attorney
for Cleveland in the negotiations, said, "While we could have, I have no
doubt, kept this team here for the next three years, we instead get a team for
the next 30 years."
Mr. Modell will reimburse the city for up to $2.25 million in legal and
other expenses as well as $9.3 million in damages over four BTC years. That
money likely will come from the sale of permanent seat licenses (PSLs) at
Baltimore's new stadium.
Mr. Modell also must pay the NFL a relocation fee of $29 million -- $20
million upfront and $9 million to be paid over 15 years, sources said. Mr.
Modell also agreed to forgo any share of an expansion fee if Cleveland is
given a new team.
The most controversial element of the deal to some owners is a line of
credit the NFL will provide Cleveland, which will be paid back with interest
by the team that eventually plays there. The agreement specifies that the
league will lend $28 million to $48 million for the stadium, depending upon
The league has been reluctant to fund stadiums. "It is a new concept. I
think it may work. It has to work," said Mr. Tisch.
San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos said, "I believe in revenue sharing.
If that's what we have to do to help a city or help a team, I believe we have
to be there when they need that help."
Less enthusiastic was Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, an ardent opponent
of the Browns' move: "I'm not in favor of the NFL financing stadiums around
the country. It would be a very big precedent."
The deal, finally struck at 8 EST last night, capped a long day that began
with NFL officials trying to persuade Mr. Modell to sell or turn over his team
to Clevelanders and accept an expansion team in Baltimore in two years.
Mr. Modell and Mr. Moag forcefully rejected that idea, sending the
bargainers back to the table, and, eventually, to agreement.
"I think they hoped Maryland would give a little more, but our agreement
is our agreement. The state of Maryland has stepped up to the plate," Mr. Moag
Mr. Modell's team -- to be renamed through a fan contest -- will play this
season and next at Memorial Stadium while a $200 million stadium is built
adjacent to Oriole Park. The team will move into the stadium in 1998.
There are efforts in the General Assembly to revoke funding for the
stadium, but Mr. Moag said he is confident they will not succeed.
"I think this is good news, basically," said state Sen. Barbara A.
Hoffman, chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and a key
supporter of the stadium plan. "Now all of the lawsuits are off and Mr. Modell
Ms. Hoffman said, though, that it was unclear whether Mr. Modell would
have lower-than-expected relocation costs.
"If his costs are less, then we may have better grounds to use some of the
PSL money for construction," Ms. Hoffman said.
Many legislators want to tap into the money generated by the sale of PSLs
to help build the stadium and lower the state's costs.
Deal's key points
* Cleveland will get a new NFL team by 1999, either by expansion or the move
of an existing franchise that meets league criteria for relocation.
* The Browns immediately will move to Baltimore and leave behind their name
* The NFL will lend $28 million to $48 million to Cleveland to help build a
stadium. The loan will be repaid by the owners of the new Cleveland team.
* Cleveland will stay all litigation, pending today's vote by NFL owners.
* Browns owner Art Modell will reimburse Cleveland for up about $12 million in
legal expenses and damages. He also will pay the NFL a relocation fee of $29
-Sun staff writers Ken Rosenthal, Mike Preston, Vito Stellino and Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.