A look at the contenders



Number of competing ownership groups: 4

Investors: New York businessman Robert Tisch, Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale, Bethesda-based real estate developer Nathan Landow and former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr each is leading a group. Banker Alfred Lerner, long thought to be interested in owning a Baltimore franchise, recently said he is not currently pursuing an expansion team.

Stadium: 60,586-seat Memorial Stadium, where an expansion team would play for one or two seasons. A football stadium with seating of about 65,000 is planned at Camden Yards. Local officials are studying various designs, including an open-air stadium, a dome and a dome that could be converted into an arena for basketball, soccer and hockey.

Price and financing plan: Figures vary widely depending on design. The cheapest alternative, an open-air stadium, carries a likely $114 million price tag.

Luxury boxes: None at Memorial Stadium. Undisclosed number planned for new stadium.

Population: 2,367,400.

TV market: 22nd.

NB Major-league teams: Orioles (baseball), Blast (indoor soccer).

Charlotte, N.C.

Number of competing ownership groups: 2

Investors: Businessman Jerry Richardson appears to be the leading candidate. Another group is led by Jim Goodmon, owner of a local broadcasting company who also is negotiating to buy the minor-league baseball Durham (N.C.) Bulls.

Stadium: A 70,000-seat downtown stadium is in the planning stage.

Price and financing: City of Charlotte has acquired a 40-acre parcel where the stadium would be located. Richardson plans to build an open-air stadium with a natural-grass playing surface with private capital, at a cost of about $125 million.

Luxury boxes: Plans call for 105 and an additional 8,000 club seats to be located along the sidelines.

Population: 1,113,100.

TV market: 31st.

9- Major-league teams: Hornets (basketball).

Jacksonville, Fla.

Number of competing ownership groups: 1

Investors: Jacksonville businessman Tom Petway has taken the lead. His partners include Hamilton Jordan, former president Carter's chief of staff, and Jeb Bush, son of the president.

Stadium: 82,272-seat Gator Bowl.

Price and financing: The city of Jacksonville has pledged $30 to $60 million in stadium renovations if the NFL comes to Jacksonville.

Luxury boxes: 28 are in place. Planned improvements would increase that to 120, and add about 5,000 club seats by adding chair backs to bench seats on sidelines.

Population: 918,000.

TV market: 57th.

) Major-league teams: None.

Memphis, Tenn.

Number of competing ownership groups: 1

Investors: Federal Express chairman Fred Smith.

Stadium: 63,104-seat Liberty Bowl.

Price and financing plan: Stadium is essentially completed.

Luxury boxes: Shells for 40 are in place, and an additional 20 suites could be added.

Population: 981,200.

TV market: 41st.

) Major-league teams: None.

St. Louis

Number of competing ownership groups: 1

Investors: Fran Murray, 49-percent owner of New England Patriots, and three others, including former NFL running back Walter Payton.

Stadium: 54,392-seat Busch Stadium in 1993. Plans are in place for construction of 70,000-seat domed stadium that also would serve as annex to downtown convention center. It would be finished for the '94 season.

Price and financing plan: Estimated cost of acquiring downtown property (including site of a high-rise hotel) and stadium construction is $250 million, with the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and state of Missouri expected to share the bill.

Luxury boxes: 106 to 108 planned.

Population: 2,482,100.

TV market: 18th.

Major-league teams: Cardinals (baseball), Blues (hockey), Storm (indoor soccer).

* Other cities mentioned as long shots for expansion: Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; Oakland, Calif.; Toronto.

* Population figures, 1988 Metropolitan statistical areas.

* TV rankings, 1989 Arbitron figures.

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