It's a date waiting to be scheduled in their respective appointment books, but Gov. Parris N. Glendening intends to meet with Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the National Football League, to discuss Baltimore's chances in any plans formulated to address what is being called possible "emergency expansion" measures brought on by the defection of two teams from Los Angeles.
Tagliabue and the club owners are primarily concerned how they can fill the void of the Rams and Raiders departing Los Angeles, the nation's second-leading television market, for St. Louis and Oakland. Suddenly, there's a vast wasteland in Los Angeles, devoid of pro football for the first time in half-a-century.
Sentiment is building within the league to deal with the Los Angeles situation via creating a "hurried-up" expansion process before the turn of the century and that's where Baltimore comes in -- or hopes to be included. Although Glendening has not tied up a date with Tagliabue the league has been informed of his interest and will be pleased to accommodate him.
It's expected Glendening will take his political ally, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, with him if deemed advisable. At this point, Tagliabue may want to be "one on one" with the newly elected governor but this is only supposition. Anything Glendening tries to do in behalf of Baltimore will include keeping Schmoke fully informed.
Within the league, there's a feeling it can no longer attempt to hold, at least by implication, the Baltimore territory for Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke since the Raiders, from all appearances, are headed back to Oakland despite the presence, 21 miles away, of the San Francisco 49ers. It's a matter that doesn't make the 49ers happy but there's little they can do about it except to try to block the Raiders' return to the city across the bay -- which means competition on the home front.
When the Raiders were discussing chances of remaining in Los Angeles, with the possibility of playing in a stadium built on the property of a race track, Hollywood Park, the 49ers, as an organization, were encouraging that all types of concessions be made to keep them in the Los Angeles area. Now the situation of the Raiders coming home takes on a different look for the 49ers.
They will attempt to lobby support from other clubs when the NFL meets later this week in Chicago to take up the Raiders-to-Oakland transfer. An erroneous report circulated that the Chicago Bears were considering a relocation in Baltimore but this is total nonsense.
Ed McCaskey, chairman of the board of the Bears, and his wife, Virginia, visited on Friday to see the Camden Yards ballpark as the guest of John Moag, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, because a new football facility is to be built in Chicago and they want to visit as many existing stadia as possible in formulating plans for what will be erected there.
On another front, Canadian Football League commissioner Larry Smith attended Saturday night's game at Memorial Stadium as the newly named Stallions stomped the San Antonio Texans, 50-24. Smith also reported on a visit with Tagliabue but not for any reasons concerning Baltimore.
The subject matter of what the two commissioners discussed is somewhat vague. But Smith quickly admitted he initiated the gathering for personal relations purposes and said he hopes they can meet periodically. "I met with Paul Tagliabue and one of his assistants, Roger Goodell," said Smith. Goodell is in charge of the NFL's international development.
The two leagues co-exist and haven't encountered any major obstacles in the last 35 years. Prior to that there were frequent disputes over players jumping contracts to go to the other league but the late Bert Bell, then commissioner of the NFL, put in place an agreement that has been respected by both sides for almost four decades.
There's a possibility the CFL will ask the NFL for assistance in gaining a network television contract and, somehow, be a replacement in summer for the spring league the NFL operated in Europe -- which took a sound financial beating and scored poorly in viewer ratings. Unlike baseball and ice hockey, farm clubs in any form have never had a history of working in pro football.
The European concept sounded visionary but hasn't produced the support or the on-field product its advocates hoped to attain. Smith insisted the CFL would not become an affiliate of the NFL. "It can be a benefit to both of us to meet," he explained. "But let me make it clear that we will not be a development league."
Smith wants to slow down on enlarging the CFL, maybe only adding one more team next year. Prior to coming to Baltimore, he was in Memphis to see an expansion club lose to the British Columbia Lions, the Grey Cup champions. "The crowd was 15,000, all paid," he said. Then he added the attendance didn't include "any paper," which is another way of saying Memphis, unlike Baltimore, is not going to give away what it's trying to sell -- meaning tickets.
Of more pertinent importance to the NFL is what it can do to solve the Los Angeles dilemma. It didn't want to follow the present expansion to Charlotte and Jacksonville with another similar stocking of new franchises but there seems no other alternative unless an existing team moves. That, however, only creates a gap elsewhere that will be in need of attention.
Baltimore fits into the L.A. development scheme. When it was written here six months ago that a possibility existed, a league official called such a hypothesis a "stretch" but that was before Los Angeles was deserted . . . by not one but two teams. Now Glendening and Tagliabue will be meeting and the Baltimore possibility takes on a different look.