The Charlotte Observer
NEW BID STALLS WHEELS DECISION
A bid from investors in Louisville, Ky., to buy the Detroit Wheels apparently stopped the World Football League just short of taking over the team and moving it to Charlotte.
A source in the league office said lat Friday than offer from Louisville was being considered.
Earlier in the day the league was reported read to take over the franchise, which is out of money and unable to pay its players and coaches, and move it to Charlotte. Under that plan, the league was to turn the management of the team over to the former general manager of the New England Patriots, Upton Bell of Boston.
Bell has tried without success for several weeks to put together a group of investors to help him buy the team and bring it to Charlotte.
The effort is still under way, Bell said Friday.
If negotiations with the Louisville group fall through, the league might move the team to Charlotte without new ownership.
Or if some of Bell's potential investors join him in bidding for the team before negotiations wit the Louisville interest are concluded, he still might be able to buy it.
A source in the Detroit organization said Friday that the day that the team's player representative had been told by league officials earlier in the week that the team was going to Charlotte.
Bell had said Friday, before news of the Louisville offer was known, that he would have an announcement in Charlotte early next week.
Bell reached agreement two weeks ago with the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission, and renting g Memorial Stadium for four games this season and told the commissions he would et them know by Friday whether the team would be coming to Charlotte.
He said previously that even if someone else bought the Detroit team he could bring a team to Charlotte next year because several other teams in the new league have financially difficulty and the league plans and add two more teams next season.
The Wheels, owned by 33 stockholders, have won only one game in 12 stars. playing home games in Eastern Michigan University's stadium some 35 miles from Detroit, the team averaged less than 15,000 attendance per game, and the organization ran out of money early in the season.
According to sources in Detroit, players and coaches haven't been paid in several weeks and the team can't afford adequate locker rooms, practice areas and other essentials.
Because the Wheels financial problems, the league said several weeks ago that it would take over the franchise unless it was brought soon.
If the team isn't sold, the league would subside its operation for the most this season, probably in Charlotte. Whether the team would remain in Charlotte beyond the current season would be up to its eventual owners and the league.
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