Originally created 09/24/98

Anaheim enters NFL derby



ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to enter the NFL derby, becoming one of several groups in Southern California interested in attracting an expansion franchise.

Council members voted to allow a group headed by a Newport Beach developer, sports consultant Wayne Wedin and former NFL player Rod Sherman to represent the city.

"This agreement is very exciting and creates an opportunity to hopefully bring the NFL back to Orange County," said City Manager Jim Ruth, who had been secretly negotiating with the partners for months.

The partnership has agreed to pay all expenses associated with obtaining an NFL team, if that should happen, including building a stadium and paying the expansion fee.

It remains unclear, however, whether the NFL will take the group seriously enough to invite them to make a presentation at its October owners' meeting in Kansas City.

To date, three prospective bidders for the league's 32nd franchise have been invited: the city of Houston, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and former super agent Michael Ovitz, who has expressed the hope of building a stadium in Carson.

A group representing the city of Irvine has failed to get an invitation to make its pitch.

Despite the strong competition, Anaheim team members expressed optimism after Tuesday's council vote that they will have a shot.

"We've basically been told that if they like our business plan and strategy, we have an excellent chance to present," said Tim Hamilton, the project manager for Capital Pacific Holdings, Inc. a development company involved in the bid.

The group believes that they can sell their proposal based on its financial appeal.

The Los Angeles Rams played in Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1995, when owner Georgia Frontiere took the team to St. Louis.

Members of the group plan to fly to New York in coming weeks to pitch their plan to top NFL officials. If they can convince them of its appeal, they'll be allowed to present it to the owners' expansion committee.

The 31 team owners will decide who joins their ranks, although no decision is expected in October.