Hornets Helmet Archives World Football League

The New York Times
September 25, 1974
By Steve Cady


The New York Stars apparently have received permission from the World Football League to move their franchise to Charlotte, N.C.

There were mounting indications here and in North Carolina last night that the switch would be formally announced this morning.

At Downing Stadium, Randalls Island, where the Stars beat the Detroit Wheels last night, the New York general manager, Bob Keating, confirmed that a news conference would be held today at the Essex House at 10 o'clock.

"Talks involving the principals are going on right now at a New York hotel," Keating said.

In a story prepared for today's editions, the Charlotte Observer said New York would play its first game in Charlotte on Oct. 9 against the Memphis Southmen. Last night's game at Downing Stadium was the club's seventh home appearance of the season.

According to the North Carolina report, the Stars would play in Charlotte's city-owned Memorial Stadium, whose capacity of 24,000 can be expanded to 28,500 by the addition of temporary bleachers.

Charlotte, a city of 325,000 with a metropolitan population of more than a million, reportedly has agreed to rent the stadium to the Starts for $2,500 a game. Normally it gets 13 per cent of the game receipts.

The World Football League, in its first year of operation, has been having trouble in a number of cities as it tries to build fan interest. Downing Stadium has been criticized for inadequate lighting and a lack of easy accessibility. The Stars had been counting on moving into Yankee Stadium when that site is renovated.

Upton Bell, former general manager of the New England Patriots, was identified as the catalyst in the planned franchise switch - a transfer reportedly set "unless there are last-minute complications."

Earlier yesterday, a Chamber of Commerce spokesman in Charlotte said the city had "lost the Detroit Wheels" but that "a better W.F.L. team" would be moving to Charlotte. Bill Hensley, the Chamber's sports committee chairman, said Bell told him he was negotiation with another team.

Bell, who would become general manager of the Stars reportedly has assured the club's owner, Robert Schmertz, that buyers could be found once the team showed it could succeed in Charlotte.

Schmertz owns the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association and the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. The whalers are moving to Hartford. According to a spokesman for the Stars, much of Schmertz's money is tied up at this time.

Bell has called Charlotte one of two major areas in the nation still untapped by pro football. He says the other is Phoenix, Ariz.

The former N.F.L. executive reportedly had hoped to bring the Wheels to Charlotte, but that deal fell through.