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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

NFL Owners Could Learn From 72,783 Football Fans

September 09, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

The Kansas City Chiefs met the Raiders in Oakland on Monday night, enabling Al Davis to play the gracious host to ABC's "MNF" crew for the third time since he returned to the other city by the bay.

He had forgotten what that was like, since the NFL failed to schedule a Monday night home game for the Raiders during their last nine years in Los Angeles.

My NFL sources tell me that Raider fans are to blame for that. Many of them were rowdy enough during Sunday afternoon games. Imagine if they'd had a few more hours to pour on their game faces.

Maybe my sources are telling the truth. But I wonder if the real reason is that too many owners think like Baltimore's Art Modell, who has compared the Coliseum area to Beirut. They're afraid to go there after dark.

I wish they had been there Saturday night to see USC play Florida State.

Ed Roski and Philip Anschutz, the King owners, arena developers and leaders in a campaign to bring an NFL team to the Coliseum, invited all the NFL owners. None accepted.

The first thing they would have noticed is that people went to the Coliseum to see a football game even if it didn't end before dark, 72,783 of them to be exact.

The second thing they would have noticed is, well, nothing.

Except for the congested traffic, the LAPD's Southwest Division reported a quiet night.

Unless Raider fans are in the vicinity, it's usually quiet for football games at the Coliseum, LAPD Sgt. Pat Shannon said.

"The biggest problem we have is with people who don't want to pay for parking," he said. "They find a spot on a side street, and, when they get back, they find their cars have been broken into.

"But I go to the L.A. Open [golf tournament] every year, and the same thing happens there. That's in Pacific Palisades."

I would like to see an NFL team in the Coliseum again, but there are reasonable people who wouldn't. More power to them if they prevail. I just hope the Coliseum neighborhood doesn't get the blame.

*

King President Tim Leiweke says his bosses, Roski and Anschutz, are waving the white flag, giving in to the final demand of a certain City Councilman. The proposed downtown home of the Kings and Lakers will be called Joel Wachs Arena. . . .

I'm pretty sure Leiweke is kidding. . . .

I'm not sure Leiweke was kidding when he said Roski and Anschutz might sell the Kings if they don't get approval to build the new arena next to the Convention Center. . . .

Harry Ornest, former owner of the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Argonauts and now a vice chairman of Hollywood Park, says he would put together an independent group to buy them. . . .

"I wouldn't do anything that interferes with what's going on downtown," he says. . . .

"But if the Kings are put up for sale and we're successful in the purchase, we'll build an arena second to none at Hollywood Park. . . .

"And we won't need taxpayer-financed tax-exempt bonds. Nor will we need to place any restrictions on Convention Center outdoor signage, to knock down the Convention Center's North Hall or to move the Bank of America vault." . . .

Coaches voting in the USA Today-ESPN poll didn't think much of the victories by Tennessee and Florida State over UCLA and USC. . . .

Each dropped a notch this week, the Volunteers to fourth and the Seminoles to sixth. . . .

USC's defense will be tested more by Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf than by Florida State's Thad Busby. . . .

USC's offense will be tested every week unless the line improves. . . .

I'm not sure why Venus Williams' father, Richard, felt compelled to mention Irina Spirlea's color when he called her "a big, white turkey." . . .

It would have sufficed to call her a big turkey. . . .

Among the more than 300 people attending Sunday's ceremony to commemorate Gilmore Field was Cliff Dapper, who played with the original Hollywood Stars in 1939. . . .

His claim to fame is that the Dodgers traded him for a broadcaster, sending the catcher to the Atlanta Crackers in the Southern Assn. so that they could bring Ernie Harwell to the booth in Brooklyn. . . .

Bobby Bragan, a former Star catcher and manager who spoke at the ceremony, says he can't believe some people think Barry Bonds is as good as Ken Griffey Jr. . . .

"If Bonds is as good, why isn't he playing center field?" Bragan wants to know.

*

While wondering who named the prevent defense, I was thinking: I wouldn't want to be around Al Davis today, it was nice of Eduardo Hurtado to show up before the season ended, Curt Schilling deserves the National League Cy Young Award.

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