Owner Bill Bidwill yesterday notified NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle that he wants to move his St. Louis Cardinals to Arizona next season, ending Baltimore's hopes of returning professional football to Memorial Stadium next fall.

Bidwill said at an impromptu news conference leaving the NFL's Park Avenue headquarters that he chose Arizona because of its warm weather and stadium arrangements.

"One of the things I like about it is that I was sitting next to a man from Phoenix on the plane coming in and he told me it was 72 degrees there," he said. "We can be more competitive there. All of the offers {to remain in St. Louis or to relocate in Baltimore or Jacksonville} were very good, but Phoenix offered the best opportunity."

If the move is approved by 21 of the NFL's 28 owners, the team will play in 70,000-seat Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe and will have the option of moving to a proposed $160 million, 74,500-seat domed stadium in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona State Vice President Brent Brown said Bidwill had negotiated "a 10-year lease with some options. Mr. Bidwill has an escape clause that he can take his team and play anywhere he wants to."

Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Herb Belgrad said "knowledgeable people in NFL circles" have told him that Baltimore's chances for landing an expansion franchise as early as 1990 were enhanced by its effort to land the Cardinals. He yesterday sent Bidwill a congratulatory telegram, also seeking "your support and assistance in our effort to return NFL football to Baltimore."

In Annapolis, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said that Bidwill had told him from the outset of talks with Maryland officials that he planned to leave St. Louis. Schaefer said he did not feel "used" by Bidwill, as he had felt used when Robert Irsay pitted Baltimore bidding against Indianapolis before the Colts owner moved the franchise there in the dark of the night in March 1984.

Schaefer said he thought "the climate had a lot to do with Bidwill's decision." The governor praised the efforts of the stadium authority, saying, "We couldn't have done anymore." Schaefer said his main disappointment was that construction couldn't be started on the football stadium in Camden Yards until Baltimore had a team and construction costs were sure to increase by the time the NFL expands.

The league owners must approve the move and a vote will be taken no later than the league's annual meeting in March in, ironically, Phoenix. Early indications among the owners were that, because Bidwill followed league protocols unlike the two other owners who have moved franchises this decade, they will support him.

"It took a lot of effort from a lot of different people," said Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell. "It obviously wasn't just the money. Other cities matched our offer a long time ago. It was the life style, the quality of life offered here."

Burton Barr, a former Arizona House majority leader who represented Phoenix in the negotiations that began last October, displayed a red sweatshirt bearing the white words "Arizona Cardinals."

The Bidwill family has owned the Cardinals 53 years, including the last 27 seasons in St. Louis. Bill Bidwill and brother Charles, whom he subsequently bought out, moved the team there from Chicago for the 1960 season.

"If the NFL owners allow Mr. Bidwill to move under these circumstances," said St. Louis Mayor Vincent Schoemehl, "the NFL is putting up an open bidding war for every franchise in this league. Every city in this country will be able to raid every city in this country."

"No one wants to see a franchise move," said Cleveland owner Art Modell, one of the NFL's most influential owners. "But Billy Bidwill has kept the league informed for four years about the problems he's been having in St. Louis. This is no overnight move. It appears it got to the point where he couldn't operate in St. Louis anymore."

Yesterday was the deadline for notifying the NFL of an intended move for the upcoming season.

When the NFL rejected the Oakland Raiders' move to Los Angeles in 1982, owner Al Davis moved anyway, then won an antitrust suit against the league. The other move occurred in 1984 when Irsay moved the Colts without league approval or even informing the league he was doing so.

Bidwill's deal in Arizona includes the Phoenix area business community building and leasing 60 sky boxes at Sun Devil Stadium in time for the 1989 season and a $5 million training facility in Phoenix, according to sources in Phoenix.

Arizona is reportedly guaranteeing the Cardinals $17 million annually in revenues from gate receipts and concessions. Jim O'Connell, an Arizona State official, estimated that Bidwill could clear $18 million to $21 million annually in stadium revenues with complete sellouts.

According to a source familiar with NFL economics, the move would allow the Cardinals to go from below league average revenues to near the top. The Cardinals had gross revenues of $29.6 million in 1986, some $1.7 million below the league average, but made a profit of $4.3 million because Bidwill's player payroll of $15 million was one of the lowest in the NFL.

With $17 million from network television, he could gross more than $38 million next season. In 1986, the Indianapolis Colts grossed the highest revenues: $39 million.

In St. Louis, County Executive Gene McNary, who worked hard but unsuccessfully to get a domed stadium constructed, said Bidwill told him yesterday he would do all he could to help St. Louis land an expansion franchise. "He said that he just couldn't stay in St. Louis because this had become a divided community," McNary said.

"We've had some winners through the years," former Cardinals lineman Dan Dierdorf said, "but we'll be remembered as a town that wouldn't support a football team."