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Maryland Stadium Board, Rams Discuss Alternatives

January 23, 1994|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DALLAS — John Shaw, Ram executive vice president, met for the first time with representatives of the Maryland Stadium Authority this past week to discuss possibly moving the team to Baltimore.

Both parties wished to keep the meeting, conducted Thursday in New York, a secret. But sources said the stadium authority asked Shaw to provide a "letter of interest" to satisfy local politicians that the Rams were seriously considering Baltimore.

"I have no comment," Shaw said Saturday night.

Sources in Baltimore said Shaw met with Herbert J. Belgrad, stadium authority chairman, and two other parties involved in Baltimore's pursuit to land a team. Belgrad led the city's drive to acquire an NFL expansion team and spearheaded the construction of Camden Yards for the Orioles.

"The meeting was preliminary, and underline the word preliminary," the source said. He also said it was unlikely the Rams would provide any letter of interest anytime soon because it might limit their options.

In Maryland, however, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the legislature have said they want indications of an NFL team's willingness to relocate in Baltimore by Feb. 14. If none steps forward:

--Schaefer reportedly will support the Washington Redskins' proposed move to Laurel, Md. Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke is pushing hard to build a stadium in Laurel, 15 miles south of Baltimore, in time to begin play in 1996.

--The legislature, which has approved the sale of bonds to build a $165 million stadium for a prospective NFL tenant, has threatened to take away those funds.

But a team source said Shaw isn't overly concerned about the deadline, and "it might be months" before any action is taken regarding a move. The Rams will not formally invoke the escape clause in their Anaheim Stadium lease until early May and are not expected to make a final decision regarding a move until early 1995.

The Maryland Stadium Authority is expected to sign a deal to bring a Canadian Football League franchise to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in the next few weeks. But, sources said, the CFL's arrival would have no impact on efforts to lure the NFL.

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