Owners group talks expansion, defers decisions


The owners on the NFL's expansion committee discussed a variety of expansion issues yesterday, including the franchise fee and proposed season-ticket campaigns, but deferred all decisions until the weeklong March meeting in Phoenix next month.

At a five-hour meeting in Dallas, the owners also came up with some requests for more information from some of the 10 cities that have applied for franchises.

The members of commissioner Paul Tagliabue's staff were instructed to get back to the officials from the cities that will be asked more questions, but those cities were not identified by league spokesman Greg Aiello. Neither was the area of concern about the cities.

The owners decided not to cut the field of 10 cities at this meeting, and a league spokesman said they didn't decide how many cities will make the cut when the field is trimmed next month.

"They're starting to get a pretty good idea," Aiello said.

It's likely that the field of 10 will be cut to five or six in March. The committee will recommend which cities should be eliminated, although the recommendation could be amended by the rest of the owners.

No more meetings are scheduled by the expansion committee before the Phoenix meeting, although members will keep in touch by telephone. Aiello said they've prepared a schedule of the details they want to cover before that meeting.

The NFL is scheduled to name two teams this fall to start play in 1994, but that could be delayed by labor problems.

It's uncertain how much interest there is in the league in the issue. Some owners don't want to expand until the league gets a collective bargaining agreement, and two of the six owners on the expansion committee -- Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns and Edward DeBartolo Jr. of the San Francisco 49ers -- didn't attend yesterday's meeting.

The owners who did were Norman Braman of the Philadelphia Eagles, Rankin Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Hugh Culverhouse of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Alex Spanos of the San Diego Chargers.

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