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Local Browns fans cut deal, too Larger room, buffet woos TV crowd to new bar, but they're split on team move; THE BROWN'S MOVE TO BALTIMORE


Local Cleveland Browns fans know the value of pursuing a sweeter deal.

Just ask Harvey Myers, owner of the Emerald Tavern on Harford Road.

The Baltimore Browns Backers, the team's local fan club, had been watching their beloved football team every Sunday for three years at Myers' Parkville bar. This season another northeast Baltimore establishment offered club members a larger room, half-priced drinks and a free buffet.

"I always got the games on for them first," Myers said. "Then they had these delusions of grandeur and they wanted something for nothing."

Just as Art Modell plans to leave Cleveland for a new stadium in Baltimore, the Baltimore Browns Backers left Myers' establishment for a better offer.

Yesterday, at the Glenmore Garden Restaurant on Belair Road, the Backers' new home, the fans and even the owners wore Browns sweat shirts and hats and all of the televisions were tuned to the Browns' game.

Reactions to Modell's proposed move were mixed among the below-average turnout of 40 people yesterday.

"I know why people didn't come, because they're upset," said Terry Hunt, president of the 150-member local group, part of a national organization that boasts 200,000 members. "They're not here because of what's going on in Cleveland."

Hunt, of Hamilton, is one of the few members who is a lifelong Baltimorean. Hunt's husband, Rick, grew up 40 miles south of Cleveland. He wore brown dog ears, an orange "Dawg Pound" headband and a Browns sweat shirt yesterday and is the leader of the anti-Browns-to-Baltimore contingent.

Rick said going to Browns' games in Baltimore is out of the question.

"If they wear the same uniforms, have the same name, and set up the Dawg Pound, there's no way," said Hunt, who said he'd create Irsay-like signs about Modell.

Hunt was not alone in his sentiments.

Nancy Hayes-Gary founded the Browns Backers' local chapter when she moved to Baltimore in 1988 because she couldn't find any place to watch the games. Yesterday Hayes-Gary brought along an orange and brown sign that said: "Keep the 'Dawgs in Cleveland."

"My parents had season tickets in Cleveland for 40 years," Hayes-Gary said. "The Browns are synonymous with Cleveland. I don't think Baltimore needs a team at another city's expense. The NFL pits city against city. If the Browns come here, I hope they change the name, change the uniforms and say it's a different team because it will be."

Hayes-Gary doesn't know if she would remain a member of the local chapter she helped start.

The same goes for Pikesville's Joan Patterson. She says her days of watching Browns' games are almost over.

"I'll come here to watch the Cleveland Browns," Patterson said. "If they're not the Cleveland Browns, I don't want anything to do with them. I come here because I love Cleveland, and Cleveland is my home."

But other club members and fellow Cleveland refugees thought Modell's decision was a blessing.

"It's a win-win situation for us," said Patrick Farbus, of Rodgers Forge.

Cockeysville's Pat Holt moved from Cleveland five years ago and intends on taking his whole family to Browns games in Baltimore.

"I'm a Browns fan. I love to go to football games." he said. "If they're going to move, they might as well move here."

Holt's wife, Becky, wasn't as convinced.

"Part of me says keep them in Cleveland, I don't want to see the Browns mistreated," she said.

Becky said she felt better over the weekend when a fan at a Dulaney High School football game offered her $150 for her Browns jacket. She said she plans on going to Baltimore Browns games: "I'll be the first in line, buddy."

All the club members at Glenmore Gardens yesterday agreed that they liked their new Browns headquarters. Complimentary chicken and hot dogs were served at halftime. Hard-shell crabs were available for dinner. And the room was much bigger.

But for Myers, the Emerald Tavern owner, the group's lack of loyalty is disappointing.

"The group grew because I consistently, every week, got the Browns on," he said.

His big-screen TV now caters to a group of Minnesota Vikings fans. And his upstairs -- where the Browns Backers used to watch their games -- is unoccupied.

Myers says his salvation will be the arrival of the Browns.

"Even if it isn't financial," he said, "it will make my life fuller."

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