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Indianapolis Mayor Says Colts Will Stay

November 09, 2002|Sam Farmer

The Indianapolis Colts are one of the NFL teams that could relocate to Southern California, but not if Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson has a say in the matter.

"The Colts are not going to be leaving Indianapolis," Peterson told reporters Friday after a two-hour meeting with Colt Owner Jim Irsay to negotiate the team's long-term presence in the city.

Irsay could not be reached for comment, but a city executive who attended the meeting at team headquarters said the mood was "very positive and very encouraging" for Indianapolis.

"We agreed that it was our mutual goal for the Colts to stay in Indianapolis under a new agreement that runs beyond 2013," when the current RCA Dome lease ends, said Fred Glass, president of the city agency that owns the stadium.

The Colt lease includes a conditional escape clause that can be activated at the start of 2007. Peterson has indicated he is willing to make payments that could exceed $10 million a year, possibly using taxpayer money, to bring the Colts up to the league median in local revenues and thereby void the escape clause.

It's a politically sensitive situation for Peterson. He doesn't want to be the mayor who lost the Colts, but he will be heavily criticized if he makes too much of a sacrifice to keep the franchise. He has described it as "a no-win situation from a political standpoint."

Former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding was ridiculed for arranging a ticket guarantee deal with the Chargers. Cleveland's Michael R. White forever will be the mayor who lost the Browns, the Art Modell-owned team that uprooted after the 1995 season and moved to Baltimore.

Irsay consistently has denied an interest in moving his team to Los Angeles, although several league sources say he has been investigating such a move for more than a year. In the past, he has implied there may be ways out of the Indianapolis lease much sooner than 2007.

L.A. has been without an NFL team since the Raiders and Rams left after the 1994 season. Officials from the Rose Bowl and Coliseum have pushed their venues as potential NFL sites.

Glass said he is optimistic the Colts will never get that far.

"Both sides have acknowledged there is a lease," he said. "Both sides want to hold up their obligations. There's no talk about either side trying to weasel out of the lease."

-- Sam Farmer


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