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ANAHEIM AND THE RAMS: FINAL PLAY? : Baltimore Deal Maker Out to Score NFL Team : Pro sports: Peter G. Angelos has been anointed the city's point man to lure a franchise. Recent successes suggest to some that he can pull it off.

May 01, 1994|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He could be the next owner of the Rams. Or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or, he could be the next governor of Maryland.

Then again, he could merely continue being Peter G. Angelos, managing partner of the Baltimore Orioles, head of his thriving Baltimore law firm, member of Loyola College's Board of Trustees and hometown hero to thousands.

"The reception he's receiving is like a heroic Roman general returning to the homeland," Baltimore law school professor Francis Valle told the Baltimore Sun after Angelos' local group outbid several out-of-state investors to purchase the baseball Orioles for $173 million last summer.

Imagine how folks would feel if Angelos can lure an NFL team to Baltimore, which once prided itself on the Colts? They'd probably want to rename the city after him.

Los Angelos, perhaps?

Angelos has been commissioned by Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer to do what the Baltimore Stadium Authority failed to do in last year's NFL expansion race--lure an NFL team.

He has reportedly made a $200-million offer for the Buccaneers, and he has acknowledged that Larry Lucchino, a member of his NFL investment group, has met with Rams officials.

"He's gotten very involved (in the football effort)," said Hal Donofrio, a Baltimore advertising executive and close friend of Angelos. "He's very willing to be a major investor, a minor investor or no investor."

Rams owner Georgia Frontiere has said the Rams aren't for sale, but there has been speculation she might sell at least a minority interest in the team if the Rams move. And Angelos certainly is in the market.

"His goal is to get a team for Baltimore, owned and controlled by Marylanders," Donofrio said. "Whether that can be done overnight or whether it takes 10 years, I don't know."

Angelos, 65, has been a prominent Baltimore resident for years. His law firm, in which he has no partners, has settled approximately $750 million in asbestos-related suits in the last decade, with more than 1,000 cases outstanding.

But since his group purchased the Orioles from Eli S. Jacobs last summer, Angelos has become Baltimore's leading mover and shaker when it comes to sports. He has been a hands-on owner with the Orioles, taking a lead role in deciding which free-agent players to pursue last off-season.

He has endeared himself to fans with his plans for construction of a pavilion in Oriole Park at Camden Yards to be used exclusively by students who will be given free admission, and for providing greater access to the park for senior citizens.

A member of Baltimore's City Council during the 1960s, the popular and personable Angelos has also been approached about running for governor.

"He's just brilliant, a diplomat in a business suit," Donofrio said. "He's usually thinking three steps ahead of anyone he's talking with. He's a strategist."

Attracting an NFL team to Baltimore might be his most difficult task yet. The competition from cities such as St. Louis and Memphis is stiff, and Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke plans to build a new stadium in Laurel, Md., only 15 miles away.

But in Angelos, Baltimoreans trust.

"He's been working 18 hours a day since last February with his law firm and baseball, and he's dead serious about bringing an NFL team here," Donofrio said. "A lot of his friends think he could make a contribution to the state as governor, but he might be able to make a bigger contribution in the private sector."

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