Schaefer modifies 'pessimism' on getting NFL team


Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday toned down concerns that he has raised about Baltimore's chance to be awarded an NFL expansion franchise.

This week, Schaefer told The Washington Post that he was "pessimistic" that the NFL would return to Baltimore.

Yesterday, Schaefer clarified those remarks, saying: "My pessimism isn't pessimism. I am talking as a realist.

"There is no absolute assurance that they are going to come to Baltimore. I think morally they should be here. Financially, they are better off here than other states. We have a commitment to build a [football] stadium. We've already demonstrated we can build a [baseball] stadium. There are lots of positives, but you have to work at it."

Schaefer said his concern has been growing since Baltimore lost one of its most eligible prospective owners, Robert Tisch. A former postmaster general, Tisch dropped out of the running in February when he purchased 50 percent of the New York Giants.

"Tisch had all the attributes. He has the money, prestige and influence," Schaefer said. "Now we've got to have another person who is equally committed and has the money."

Three investor groups still are pursuing a team, which NFL officials have predicted will begin play in 1994. They are led by Bethesda developer Nathan Landow, Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale and former Green Bay Packer Bart Starr.

Two other groups have expressed interest in owning a Baltimore team, said Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad.

Belgrad said he hasn't told the governor about the new investor groups yet because the talks haven't proceeded far enough. The information might improve the governor's spirits, the stadium authority chairman said.

"The governor comes from a point where, as the mayor, he went through the pain of losing a football team. Then he went through an abortive effort of obtaining the [then-St. Louis] Cardinals," Belgrad said. "He's a do-it-now governor. But these things take time."

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