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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Hey, San Francisco, Remember Brooklyn?

May 28, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

A headline last week in the San Francisco Examiner guaranteed Bay Area football fans that their worst fear would not be realized. It read: "Would 49ers go to L.A.? No way."

Here's my take on that:

Way.

I'm not saying the 49ers are moving here. I'm just saying San Franciscans probably should take 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo's threat to do so as seriously as their mayor does. Willie Brown is already discussing steps he will take to assure the city doesn't lose the name 49ers if it loses the team.

All one has to do to realize it could happen is read the equally smug headlines from the old Brooklyn Eagle about the unthinkable move of the Dodgers to Los Angeles.

Four decades later, Brooklynites still refuse to accept any responsibility, placing the blame entirely on greedy Walter O'Malley. But all he wanted to stay was a new stadium. Just like DeBartolo is asking for in a June 3 vote.

The Examiner placed great emphasis on Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas' assertion that his efforts to bring the NFL back to the Coliseum are aimed solely at an expansion team.

But even a non-football fan like Ridley-Thomas, who thinks pay dirt refers to illegal campaign contributions, surely recognizes that luring the 49ers here would give new meaning to The Catch.

All I can figure is that Ridley-Thomas was trying to avert one of those tired war of words between Northern and Southern California.

Too late.

Examiner columnist Rob Morse wrote: "Hey, I've been following this team too long to put up with threats about L.A. The only threat L.A. holds is for those who live there."

And: "What would the 49ers do in L.A.? They wouldn't even be able to get a table at Spago. Half the linemen will have to get lipo. As hunks du jour, everyone but Steve and Jerry will be five cuts below the anonymous male lifeguards on 'Baywatch.' "

Ouch.

I'd fire back, but I've already used my monthly allotment of cliches.

*

Denouncing skeptics who aren't convinced the NFL will return to the Coliseum, Mike Antonovich, president of the Coliseum Commission, wrote a letter to the Daily News reporting the campaign is gaining momentum. . . .

"I would categorize our position . . . as having a first and 10 at the opponent's 40-yard line," he wrote. . . .

I hope he's right. The Coliseum plan of constructing a new stadium within a historic facade has an impressive precedent in Barcelona, which created a noble but modern venue in time for the 1992 Summer Olympic opening ceremonies. . . .

But I fear NFL officials, no strangers to politics, merely are telling our politicians what they want to hear while waiting for an alternative, like Chavez Ravine or Hollywood Park. . . .

Remember when the Coliseum Commission joined Al Davis in that successful antitrust suit against the NFL? . . .

NFL owners do. . . .

Enthused about the increasing likelihood of a new downtown arena, the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission is already preparing bids for the NBA and NHL All-Star Games and U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in 2000 and the U.S. figure skating championships in 2002. . . .

David Simon, L.A. Sports Council president, cautions that those sports might not commit to the arena that soon considering ground hasn't been broken yet. But he sees all of those events and more, perhaps even a Final Four, in the proposed new arena's future. . . .

"The Pond already is capable of bidding for those events, but now L.A. will also have a facility that can compete with any in the country," he says. . . .

Thumbs up to the Kings for lowering season-ticket prices, even if it was by only a couple of quarters per game. . . .

Thumbs down to the Kings if they try to compensate by raising single-game ticket prices. . . .

No matter what the Kings do, they can't commit a public relations blunder to rival the Ducks' decision let Ron Wilson go. . . .

Duck President Tony Tavares says the team started poorly because Wilson missed part of training camp to coach the U.S. team in the World Cup. . . .

For one thing, that's wrong. The Ducks started poorly because Paul Kariya was injured. . . .

For another, didn't the Ducks' general manager, Jack Ferreira, give Wilson his blessing to coach the Americans? Ferreira, after all, was the U.S. team's assistant general manager.

*

While wondering if Tiger Woods struggled Sunday because he played basketball the night before, I was thinking: I feel a big game coming for Michael Jordan tonight, I'm happy somebody I've heard of won the Indianonymous 500, I'm happier it ended before Labor Day.

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