Baltimore Stallions owner Jim Speros and limited partner Dr. Michael Gelfand met yesterday in Montreal with potential investors and a group of CFL officials including commissioner Larry Smith in an attempt to negotiate a deal to move the Grey Cup champions there in 1996, sources said.
The Stallions either would play in Montreal in 1996 or they would disband, a source said. Speros and Gelfand are expected to return to Baltimore tomorrow.
Montreal last had a CFL team in 1986.
The Stallions' possible move to Montreal comes on the heels of reports in the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that the idea of shutting down operations of the American CFL franchises for at least one year was discussed during a conference call of the league's board of governors Monday.
CFL executives have begun to make preparations for a dispersal draft, the Globe and Mail reported.
Speros had said repeatedly that Houston was his leading candidate for relocation among three contending sites, which also included Richmond, Va., and the Lehigh Valley, Pa., area.
Speros was in the process of negotiating a lease to play at the Astrodome next season with Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr., who owns the company that runs the Astrodome.
News of Speros' trip to Montreal came as a surprise to McLane.
"We haven't talked since last Friday," McLane said last night. "I attempted to call [Speros] today and got no response. I'm surprised. I thought he would have talked the issues through with us before making a decision about Montreal."
Speros could not be reached yesterday.
U.S. expansion in the CFL was extended to five teams this season. The Birmingham Barracudas have suspended operations; the Memphis Mad Dogs folded after one season; the Shreveport Pirates are in limbo after their bid to relocate to Norfolk, Va. was rejected last week; and San Antonio Texans owner Fred Anderson said his team suffered a $5 million deficit this year.
CFL chairman John Tory responded to Speros' letter in a news release yesterday, stating that he was "optimistic the Stallions group will remain a part of the CFL at this time."