Baltimore won't lure Redskins, Belgrad says


Baltimore, which lost its NFL team to a midnight flight, will not try to lure the Redskins from Washington unless the district and team fail to resolve their differences on a new stadium project, according to Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herbert J. Belgrad.

"As a city that has been the victim of a raid of its franchise we are not going to enter into that kind of process," Belgrad said. The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984.

Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke is negotiating with Laurel Race Course owner Joe De Francis to build a stadium near the track.

Belgrad said the state has been contacted by two clubs interested in moving to Baltimore and will continue those discussions. He termed those talks "exploratory," but said they are continuing.

He declined to identify the clubs, but said they come from the list of five franchises that have been the subject of speculation: the Los Angeles Raiders and Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots.

But it appears the two clubs are either the Raiders, the Rams or the Buccaneers.

The Bengals have publicly expressed satisfaction with discussions with their city, cooling for the time being their desire to move.

And Belgrad said the Patriots are not among the teams in contact with the stadium authority. Representatives of the Boston-area club have, however, contacted local investors not connected with the state, he said.

Baltimore, St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn., lost to Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., in the NFL's just-completed expansion.

"The governor has given us the green light to negotiate with teams that approach us," Belgrad said. "Instead of going to the NFL as beggars and dancing to their tune, we are now going to take control of our own destiny."

Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly says the city and Redskins are negotiating building a stadium near the team's existing home, RFK Stadium, and alleges that the Laurel discussions are a "ploy."

Belgrad said: "We are not going to do anything to interfere with their negotiations or provide leverage."

He said he believes the club also is negotiating on a site in Northern Virginia.

"We're just not about to invade a city or collude to take away a franchise from a city that supported the franchise," Belgrad said. "We have to be convinced that there is a firm and irrevocable decision to change locales."

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