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NFL Threatens To Fine Seahawks Owner Over Possible Move

February 22, 1996

SEATTLE (AP) _ NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has warned Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring he could be fined as much as $500,000 if he moves the team, according to a published report.

The story, published Thursday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said the fine would be for conduct detrimental to the league.

However, a spokesman for Behring denied the story.

``There is no truth to the story whatsoever,″ Alan Elias said in Los Angeles.

He said that Tagliabue and Behring had a 90-minute meeting Wednesday night that was ``cordial, a useful exchange of information.″

``At no time during that meeting were there any threats made to Mr. Behring by the commissioner,″ Elias said. ``Both sides agreed to reflect on the Seattle stadium (Kingdome) situation and confer later.″

Elias said Behring continues to move forward in Southern California with his plan to move to the greater Los Angeles area for the 1996 season with team headquarters at Rams Park in Anaheim, the practice facility for the Los Angeles Rams before their move to St. Louis last year.

Elias said discussions on using the practice facility _ and home-field arrangements for the 1996 season _ are not yet complete. But he said the team that will have a new name and uniforms in Southern California is planning to use Rams Park for an off-season mini-camp during March.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that Tagliabue and Behring had met in West Palm Beach, Fla., to discuss the franchise.

Aiello told The Associated Press by telephone from New York that the meeting included the commissioner, Behring and team president Dave Behring, the owner’s son. The league’s finance committee is meeting in West Palm Beach.

Aiello said until lawsuits resolve the Kingdome lease, as far as the league is concerned, the Seahawks remain in Seattle.

Contacted at his hotel room by a P-I reporter, Tagliabue refused to discuss the meeting with Behring and possible fine.

``I’m not going to be making any comment,″ he said.

Local football boosters told the P-I that Tagliabue intended to tell Behring that he would fine him unless Behring returned the Seahawks and all their weightlifting equipment to their former headquarters in Kirkland.

``If the meeting was as successful as we hope, a rather clear message will have been delivered,″ said one local official, who refused to be identified.

Behring recently reached a tentative deal to lease a new headquarters in Anaheim. Much of the team’s conditioning equipment already is there.

Behring, who still has 10 years left on his lease with the Kingdome, has complained about the safety of the 20-year-old facility. Behring has filed a lawsuit against the county claiming that the lease no longer is valid. The county has countersued.

Behring’s decision to move the team comes despite a resolution signed by all NFL owners last year that gave control of the Los Angeles market to the National Football League.

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