Are the Baltimore Ravens an expansion team?

OK, actually a couple of different questions:

When Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore in the previous century, it caused such an uproar that some of the conditions that the NFL put on it was that a) Cleveland would very soon be given a franchise, that that b) it would be named the “Browns.”

Typically when a team moves, regardless of what city it’s in, the records go with the team, not the city. So, are the new Browns considered the successor of the previous Browns and any records set compared to the previous Browns? If so, then are (for records purposes) the Ravens considered an expansion team, and any records are starting from a blank slate–or do they include records set when they were known as the Browns?

Was the reason that Modell moved the team simply because he wanted a new stadium, but didn’t want to go personally in debt to build it–instead wanting taxpayers to build it for him?

I’m pretty sure that the new Cleveland Browns are an expansion team, and records set by the old Cleveland Browns count as Ravens records. At least, that’s what I can figure from Art Modell’s talking last night.

Yes, the Browns are an expansion franchise. Teams can move all they want, but they each takes the history of its franchise with it. Witness the Washington Senators in baseball - that was a team that was in Washington DC then moved to Minneapolis. Then Washington, years later, got a new team. That team played in Washington a few years, then relocated to Arlington, Texas to become the Rangers. In essence there were two franchises - the one that’s now the Minnesota Twins and the one that’s now the Texas Rangers.

So no, the Ravens aren’t an expansion team. :slight_smile:

I was under the impression that the franchise records for the Browns stayed in Cleveland for the new Browns. Baltimore got the benefit of an established team, just no history.
I think that the NFL realized that they made a mistake when the Colts left Baltimore.

Art Modell surrendered ownership of all the trademarks regarding the Browns when he packed up and left Cleveland. The Browns franchise still existed in Cleveland, except that for a few years there was no team.

The Ravens were considered a new team, but not an expansion team, as they were not allowed to pick players off an existing team’s roster, although that is not much of an issue in the NFL with its high turnover on rosters.

BobT is right. I have a 2000-2001 season Browns yearbook. It has all the records of the browns from 1950, when they played their first year in the NFL after being in the All American Football conference for four seasons. The years 0f 1996, 97, and 98 are not in the book because they didn’t play. The city of Cleveland kept the history.

Mobo85, Modell is an idiot. He knows the Ratbirds don’t have the old Browns records. Why does he do it? Who knows! He is an idiot!

I stand corrected, even though I am now sitting.

I forgot that he had to give up the records, too - I knew he had surrendered the colors, but forgot about the history.

Pretty much, yep. He had been asking for years for the city to repair or rebuild Cleveland Stadium, claiming that he could not afford to undertake major repairs on his own. (Of course, this stemmed in large part from his own constant financial mismanagement, which he always denied, but which became obvious when he sold off most of his stake in the team after moving to Baltimore. But anyway.)

When the city announced the Gateway project, which would contain a new arena for the Cavaliers to replace the Richfield Coliseum, and a new baseball-only park for the Indians, Modell was incensed. He would be losing the rent that the Indians paid to him, and would still be stuck with the old stadium.

The thing is, Modell had the opportunity to be in on the Gateway deal, and for whatever reason, he didn’t want to. The suspicion is that he was already shopping the team around. In any case, things came to a head during the 1995-96 football season. After both he and Mayor Michael White were in the newspapers all summer going back and forth about Cleveland Stadium, Modell declared a “moratorium” on talking about it in the news. He said that it was a distraction for the team, and he would talk about it after the season.

Well, guess what? There was a good reason for the moratorium–Modell had already reached an agreement with Baltimore to move the team there. Only a short while after his vow of silence, he announced the move. The city was, of course, furious, especially because there was a ballot issue scheduled for November to continue the alcohol and tobacco tax that had built Gateway for the purposes of repairing/rebuilding Cleveland Stadium. Too little, too late, I guess.

The long and short of it is that all parties involved–Modell, Mayor White, the city council, the county commissioners–screwed up and did everything wrong. Especially galling is that, in a city with a major public school crisis, Cleveland spent more than $300 million dollars to build a new stadium on the lakefront (on the site of the old stadium) with a 25-year property tax abatement, and turned the keys over to billionaire Al Lerner, who pays no rent. Brilliant.

Just a couple of other points:

  • In 1995 when Modell decided to move the team to Baltimore, the team still had 3 years to go on its lease on Cleveland Stadium. Cleveland Stadium was owned by the city of Cleveland, but management of the stadium was done by an entity known as Stadium Corp., which was wholly owned by Art Modell. Stadium Corp leased the stadium from the city of Cleveland for $1 per year, and enjoyed rent from the Indians and revenue from loges. So that when Modell complains that the stadium wasn’t being maintained, what he’s really saying is that he, or more correctly his own company, didn’t maintain it. Modell took the rent and loge revenue Stadium Corp received as his own profit, rather than reinvesting it into the facility. The Indians wanted their own facility so that they could control the loge income their facility generated, rather than having it go to Modell. Prior to Jacobs Field opening Modell was receiving $50K per year per loge unit at Cleveland Stadium, which entitled the loge tenant to 81 Indians games and 8 Browns games. After Gateway opened Modell kept trying to get $50K per loge per year, even though he was only selling 8 Browns games without 81 Indians games. Naturally, his loge sales dropped, and he blamed the Indians and the City, instead of his own foolishness in not adjusting the price he charged for loges.

-When Modell’s Browns moved to Baltimore, they breached their lease. The City sued the Browns, Modell and the NFL for breaching the lease. The suit was settled without trial, and part of the settlement was that Modell agreed to leave the team name, history and records in Cleveland, with a new team. At the time of the settlement, the new team could’ve been an expansion team, or another moved team. Tampa Bay and Denver, for instance, both used the threat of moving to Cleveland to coerce new taxpayer financed stadiums out of their residents.