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NFL votes to help fund new stadium for Raiders

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With near unanimity, NFL club owners voted yesterday to make significant financial sacrifices to keep the Raiders in Los Angeles and bridge the gap between the league's poorest and richest teams.

It was all about money as two days of spring meetings concluded with a pair of resounding resolutions that might induce yawns in many fans, but matter a great deal to the league's future.

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"We traded inventory for stability," said Miami Dolphins vice president/general manager Eddie Jones.

The league spent big -- though not as much as it might have -- to insure stability on two counts:

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* Owners voted 27-1 with two abstentions to entice the Raiders to stay in Los Angeles by helping fund a $200 million stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. Only the New York Jets voted against the resolution; the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins abstained.

The deal -- assuming financing and lease arrangements can be worked out -- assures a continued NFL presence in the nation's No. 2 TV market in the wake of the Rams' recent flight to St. Louis.

"This deal is very good for Los Angeles, and should show how much we want to be there," said Robert Tisch, an owner of the New York Giants.

* Clubs voted 29-1 for an expanded revenue-sharing policy that will transfer $72 million to lower-revenue teams over the next four years. Only the Redskins dissented.

The measure helps assure that teams below the league average in revenue will get a boost to help meet NFL minimums for spending on player salaries.

The Los Angeles resolution awards the 2000 or 2001 Super Bowl to the new stadium, and a second Super Bowl within five years if a second NFL team becomes a tenant. That's a major enticement to help sell premium seat licenses (PSLs), which largely will finance stadium construction.

The Raiders also would receive an extra allotment of up to 10,000 Super Bowl tickets, one for every PSL sold. The new stadium would seat 67,000 but expand to 82,000 for Super Bowls.

Clubs also agreed to waive their visiting team shares of premium seat revenue at the new stadium for up to 12 years. This could mean an additional $50 million or more.

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Raiders owner Al Davis wanted but didn't get an additional $20 million loan for Hollywood Park chairman R. D. Hubbard, a partner in the venture. However, Davis will get 50 percent of any relocation or territorial rights fee paid by a second team that might move to Los Angeles. That would figure to be at least $10 million.

The NFL appointed three club executives from prominent league committees -- Denver owner Pat Bowlen (broadcasting), Carolina owner Jerry Richardson (stadiums) and San Francisco president Carmen Policy (finance) -- to work with the Raiders and Hollywood Park to make the deal happen by a flexible July 1 deadline.

The plan would put the Raiders in the new stadium by 1997 and a second team there as early as 1998, and guarantee that the Raiders would remain in Los Angeles for the 1995-96 season contingent on the Hollywood Park deal reaching fruition.

Davis left it unclear whether he would remain at the Los Angeles Coliseum the next two seasons or explore options in Anaheim, Calif., Oakland, Calif., or elsewhere.

He said yesterday's resolution left him with "a positive feeling," but added that he still is undecided where his team will play.


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