Glazer family says it could pay cash for Baltimore football team

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Malcolm Glazer family, the newest entrant in the National Football League expansion derby, says it has the financial clout to jump-start Baltimore's stalled franchise bid.

Mr. Glazer, the sole owner of a conglomerate, brings an asset that no other potential owner may be able to match: He says he has the liquid capital available to write a check for the full price of the team without selling any assets or borrowing money.

In their first interview since they notified the Maryland Stadium Authority last month that they planned to bid for a team for Baltimore, two of Mr. Glazer's sons, Bryan and Joel, said yesterday that the family has the cash available to buy the team even if it costs from $150 million to $200 million.

"We came into this with the assumption that it'd be a 100 percent cash deal," Bryan Glazer said.

That means if they get a team for Baltimore, it wouldn't be saddled with any debt service and would have the financial underpinning to be a successful team on the field.

Baltimore's expansion hopes had appeared to be sagging since New York businessman Robert Tisch pulled out of the Baltimore expansion derby earlier this year to buy half of the New York Giants. Mr. Tisch had the money and the personal contacts within the league to give him an edge in the race for a team.

The Glazers said their father knows many of the NFL owners -- although they declined to identify them -- from his various business dealings around the country.

Malcolm Glazer is the founder and sole owner of First Allied Corp., which has diversified holdings all over the United States. It is based in Rochester, N.Y., and Boynton Beach, Fla.

He was the highest bidder for Conrail at $7.6 billion in 1984 before the government decided not to sell the railroad. The sons declined to discuss the family's net worth.

Bryan and Joel Glazer are company vice presidents in charge of seeking acquisitions.

The NFL expansion application calls for one owner to have at least 30 percent of the team, but the NFL prefers sole owners so there isn't any potential for conflict among the group. The Glazers are the lone family-only group competing for a franchise.

The NFL hasn't announced the price or how the money must be paid for the expansion teams, but estimates have ranged from $125 million to $200 million.

The league announced yesterday that Baltimore was one of 11 cities to apply for an expansion team. The potential owners are to submit their bids with $100,000 checks -- only $50,000 is refundable -- by Oct. 1.

The other applicants were Charlotte, N.C.; Honolulu; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; St. Louis; and San Antonio.

The league will now spend the next six months studying the applications before narrowing the field to an unspecified number of cities at a meeting in Phoenix next March.

The next question is whether the league will actually go ahead and name two teams by next fall to play in 1994. The league added the standard proviso that expansion could be delayed if the league decides that labor-management issues are an impediment.

But Raymond "Chip" Mason of the Greater Baltimore Committee said he now thinks it would be difficult for the league to pull back from expansion. "I was a skeptic under 30 or 60 days ago, but on the course they're on right now, they've got to have a reason to back away," he said.

Mr. Mason said Baltimore's application was very impressive. "The book was just gorgeous," he said. "It's as nicely done as I could have imagined. The facts are good, the statistics are good, the demographics are good."

Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said a consultants' survey showed Baltimore could sell 199,000 tickets per game, 700 private suite and 8,000 club seats. A sellout would be about 65,000 seats, 100 private suites and 7,000 club seats.

He also said the consultants counted only people who were "extremely interested" or "would definitely purchase" tickets. If you counted the people who could "probably purchase tickets" or were only "very interested," you could sell 408,000 tickets a game, according to Mr. Belgrad.

The Glazers are one of five groups that have told the Maryland Stadium Authority that they plan to submit bids. The other four pTC are Nathan Landow, a Bethesda real estate developer and Maryland Democratic Party chairman; Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, chairman of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc., which operates a nationwide chain of clothing stores; Tom Clancy, an author of best-selling novels who lives in Calvert County; and the old group headed by former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, which is now called Maryland NFL Expansion Group Ltd.

Mr. Belgrad said he didn't want to show a preference toward any group, but said of the Glazers: "I think they love sports. I'd think they would be an ideal ownership group."

Bryan Glazer, 26, a Chicago lawyer, and Joel Glazer, 24, who lives in Washington, said they would both move to Baltimore if they get a team for the city because they don't want to be absentee owners.

"We want to be a big part of the community," Joel Glazer said.

The Glazers' entrance into the field comes at a time when the perception was that Baltimore was running third in a two-city race.

Although the process hasn't really started, many publications -- Pro Football Weekly was the latest -- have recently listed Charlotte and St. Louis as the front-runners on the strength of their financial clout.

Charlotte has a high-powered group led by the Jerry Richardson family and the financial backing of NCNB (North Carolina National Bank), and St. Louis is the corporate home of Anheuser-Busch Corp., one of the major sponsors of NFL games.

But the Glazers noted how Miami and Denver got the two baseball expansion franchises named earlier this year. "We watched Wayne Huizenga propel Miami from an also-ran to the No. 1 choice," Bryan Glazer said. "It came down to who could write the check."

St. Petersburg was a heavy favorite over Miami going into the baseball expansion derby because it has a domed stadium already in place, while the new Miami team must play in Joe Robbie Stadium, which was built for football. But the financial clout of Mr. Huizenga, the Blockbuster Video magnate, made Miami the winner. "We want to follow the Huizenga model," Joel Glazer said.

The Glazers did enter the baseball expansion derby with a novel idea for one team to share any four cities of the five leading contenders -- Denver, Miami, Buffalo, St. Petersburg and Washington. When that idea was rejected, they said, they looked at the Denver franchise, but decided they would rather own a football franchise.

Because NFL football teams share television revenue equally, the Glazers think all the teams have a better chance to compete.

Although the NFL in the past has picked the cities first and then chosen the owners for expansion teams, the fact that the deadline for applications for cities and owners is so close together is an indication that the potential owners a city has will play a major role in the selection.

After checking into all the potential expansion cities, the Glazers decided to bid for Baltimore.

"We don't think it should be considered an old city," Joel Glazer said, although Baltimore gets that designation because it is one of three teams -- St. Louis and Oakland are the others -- that lost NFL teams in the 1980s.

"It's like a new city now," Bryan Glazer said, compared to what it was like in 1984 when the Colts made their late-night move to Indianapolis.

He said the twin-stadium complex in downtown Baltimore gives the city a whole different look.

"It's the first thing you see when you go downtown," Bryan Glazer said. "It'll be the only city in the country that will have two new stadiums less than 5 years old."

He means it will if Baltimore gets an NFL expansion team. The baseball stadium is expected to be finished by April. The football stadium will be built only if Baltimore gets an NFL expansion team.

Malcolm Glazer, 63, started his business career at age 15 working in his grandparents' jewelry store after his father died.

He worked in the store until he graduated from high school. For the next four years, he spent most of his time traveling, selling watches and watch bands to stores. He later moved into real estate and now has shopping centers and other holdings in 21 states from Vermont to California.

A look at Glazer

Age: 63

Native: Rochester, N.Y.

Home: Palm Beach, Fla.

Position: President, First Allied Corp. (real estate and shopping center holdings in 21 states. Also has television, health-care and banking holdings).

Family: Mr. Glazer and his wife, Linda, have been married for 32 years.

Children:

Avram, 30, lawyer and vice president of corporation, American University law school graduate. Wife, Jill, is expecting their first child. Lives in Rochester.

Kevin, 28, vice president of corporation. Graduate of Ithaca College. Lives in Rochester.

Bryan, 26, lawyer, vice president of corporation. Whittier College law school graduate. Lives in Chicago.

Joel, 24, vice president of corporation, graduate of American University. Lives in Washington.

Darcie, 23, law school student at Suffolk University law school in Boston.

Edward, 21, student at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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