After 16 controversial years as owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Leonard Tose has agreed to sell the National Football League team to Norman Braman, a Florida auto dealer and Pennsylvania native.
"I really didn't (want to sell)," Tose said. "But that's the way it is. I have no regrets. I had a hell of a run."
Tose declined to provide specifics about the sale, but said the price was "better than" a previously reported figure of $65 million. "I came out with all the money I'll ever need," Tose said. "I'm not down, I'm up."
Tose paid about $16 million to acquire 99 percent of the club in 1969. Braman, 52, of Coral Gables, Fla., would become the seventh owner of the Eagles since the team was founded in 1933.
"I'm glad I got the right guy to carry on the way I want it," Tose said late Saturday night from his hotel room in Miami, where negotiations had been going on virtually around the clock for 10 days.
The deal still must be approved by 21 of the 28 NFL owners.
Tose, reportedly $42 million in debt, has been under pressure to raise capital to pay a $12 million loan to Crocker National Bank in San Francisco by April 1.
Sources told the Associated Press that a news conference introducing Braman would be held today or Tuesday at Veterans Stadium. Braman's Philadelphia attorney, Charles M. Golden, said Braman might be in Philadelphia today to meet with Mayor W. Wilson Goode and members of the city council.
Goode recently negotiated new leases with the Eagles and with baseball's Phillies requiring the teams to play all home games at Veterans Stadium until 2011. The lease was approved Dec. 15, part of a settlement keeping Tose from moving the Eagles to Phoenix. It calls for Philadelphia to build as many as 80 luxury skyboxes at a cost of $8 million.
Braman, who is active in south Florida politics and community service, moved from the Philadelphia area in 1968 after selling his interest in a drugstore chain, Philadelphia Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals Inc.
In 1972, he bought a Cadillac dealership in Tampa that grew to 16 luxury-car showrooms that he estimated grossed $100 million in 1980. In a financial disclosure statement in 1981, Braman reported his net worth as $24.1 million.
Braman was part of a group that tried to buy the Washington Federals of the U.S. Football League last year and move them to Miami. He would have been a limited partner in the group, led by hotel owner Sherwood Weiser. The deal fell through when Braman withdrew his financial support . . .
USFL Commissioner Harry Usher formally announced that Giants Stadium will be the site of this season's league championship game.
The July 14 game had been scheduled for the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., but the league decided to move it after the host Michigan Panthers merged with the Oakland Invaders after last season and moved their operations to the West Coast.
Usher said the metropolitan New York stadium offered the league widespread media exposure and was one of the area's last chances to host a postseason football championship.
The last title game in the area was in 1968, when the New York Jets met the Oakland Raiders for the American Football League title at Shea Stadium.