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Owner Is No Bargain Either

October 12, 2002|Sam Farmer

Amazing story out of Minneapolis, and it has nothing to do with the Twins.

The Vikings, 0-4 in their worst season since 1967, planned a "garage sale" last Saturday at team headquarters. They invited the public to come and pick through used exercise equipment, office furniture, books, jerseys, helmets, anything and everything. The proceeds would go not to charity but to owner Red McCombs, who made a fortune in Texas as a car salesman and now is aggressively trying to sell his football team.

It gets weirder.

The first sale didn't draw much of a crowd, so the club scheduled another three days later, storing the stuff in the indoor practice facility. The Vikings, coming off a bye week, tried to practice outside Monday but the drizzly weather wouldn't allow it. So they moved inside.

And there they found that the south end zone of the facility was cluttered with desks, cabinets, blocking sleds, and more than a dozen old TVs. Everything had a price tag, even the six cases of Skin Bracer after-shave--25 cents a bottle--which, amazingly, weren't snapped up by sportswriters in the first go-round.

At last check, the rest of the team wasn't up on EBay.

An L.A. Update

I mention the Vikings because that's the team that's moving to Los Angeles. Or, wait, it's the Colts. No, Chargers. Hold on, what week is this?

An Indianapolis TV crew spent three days in L.A. this week, talking to officials from the Coliseum and Rose Bowl, dropping by sports bars to quiz patrons, essentially doing some early house-hunting for those Colt employees who plan to move west with the football team.

Folks in Indianapolis are deeply concerned that they might lose the Colts to L.A., and team owner Jim Irsay is doing very little to disabuse them of that notion, beyond saying he plans to stay through the 2003 season. There could be loopholes in the team's RCA Dome lease that would allow the Colts to pull out before the first obvious exit clause in 2006.

Then, there are the San Diego Chargers, who are more than ready to get out of aging Qualcomm Stadium and are quietly hoping this season's Super Bowl exposes the place as a dump. They are moving their training camp from La Jolla to Carson next summer and still have the inside track on moving to the nation's No. 2 TV market, according to NFL owners with whom I've spoken.

Meanwhile, in L.A., all this jostling is met with a collective yawn.

This city has been without an NFL franchise since the Raiders and Rams moved after the 1994 season, and there's no indication that will change soon.

There is, after all, no place for a team to play. NFL owners and executives have said they don't want to return to the Coliseum, and any renovation of that venue would require G-3 loan money and the promise of multiple Super Bowls as a financing tool. In other words, the NFL has to be on board.

The Rose Bowl is in a similar bind, since the city of Pasadena has no plans to pitch in any money toward renovating that stadium, an endeavor that would cost about $400 million. The city isn't even paying John Moag, the consultant who's trying to position that stadium to land an NFL team. The Rose Bowl is facing a string of hurdles that stretches into the distance--among them poor freeway access, historical preservation issues, a neighborhood that might be unreceptive to the number of major events such a renovation would demand.

In short, there's no stadium solution on the horizon, and no one's stepping up with the money to change things.

Well, there is one money-making mechanism that could rectify the situation. It's a little extreme, but here goes.... Garage sale!

Around the League

AFC EAST--Good news and bad news in Buffalo. Good news: The Drew Bledsoe-powered Bills are averaging 32.5 points, 406.4 yards and 327.4 yards passing a game. Bad news: They are on pace to give up 576 points, an NFL record. Oh, and Buffalo's is the only NFL defense without an interception.... Why are the Patriots stumbling? It starts with their run defense. In the last three games, they have been shredded by Kansas City's Priest Holmes, 180 yards; San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, 217, and Miami's Ricky Williams, 105.... The Dolphins, who play at Denver on Sunday, have won 12 in a row against AFC West opponents.... Two days after New York Jet safety Damien Robinson pointed fingers all over the locker room, assigning blame for the team's shortcomings on defense, he claimed he was misquoted and taken out of context. But what about all those reporters who were recording his words? Details, details.

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