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Kenneth Behring, a self-made California millionaire who described his...

By
TERENCE M. FINAN

SEATTLE -- Kenneth Behring, a self-made California millionaire who described his purchase of the Seattle Seahawks as a dream come true, said Tuesday he would take more control running the team than previous owners have.

In his first public appearance since buying the NFL franchise last weekend for an estimated $80 million, Behring also said he has no plans to move the team from what he called 'the best football town in the whole country.

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'The way I've always tried to run any business, I want to be involved and I want to know what's going on,' Behring said, contrasting him plans with the hands-off management approach of the Nordstrom family, which has owned a majority percentage of the team since it was formed in 1975.

'I want to be surrounded by somebody better than myself in every position,' he said. 'I think's that what we have. We're not going to change anything that's a winning combination.'

The sale, which is still subject to the approval of the NFL, would make the Seahawks the fifth NFL team in the past four years to change ownership. The New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles were sold in 1985, and the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys in 1984. The owners of the New England Patriots are negotiating a sale.

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The Nordstroms, who own a chain of upscale department stores, have quietly had the Seahawks up for sale for the past several years. Last month, the Nordstroms -- who paid $8.16 million for their 51 percent share of the team in 1975 -- paid $35 million to buy out their minority partners.

Terms of the sale were not made public but Behring said $80 million 'is very close.'

Behring announced during his news conference at the Seahawks' training camp that he has a minority partner. Ken Hofmann, also a California real estate developer, is a 'financial partner' with 49 percent ownership of the team, Behring said.

Behring, 60, of Danville, Calif., who is worth at least $600 million garnered from real estate projects around the world, said the idea of buying the Seahawks developed only recently. However, he said he took to it quickly because of his love of football.

'It was only a few months ago that I really got interested. It progressed pretty fast from there,' he said. 'After I came up here and met all the people, I became even more interested. I felt a certain momentum that was happening and I wanted to be a part of it.

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'At this point in my life I'm looking for more than just another business venture,' he said. 'I've been very fortunate in my life and this is a dream come true. It's an opportunity to participate in a sport that's only going to get stronger. Where can you look on a small screen and see 22 gladiators hitting each other? It's something that always going to be around.'

Behring, who played high school in football and repeatedly called himself 'a person who likes to win,' said, 'I think this could possibly be a Super Bowl year (for Seattle).'

Revelation of the sale over the weekend raised the question if the team would be moved, especially in light of Behring's interests being centered in California. But when asked if he would try to move the team before the end of its Kingdome lease in 2005, Behring said, 'Absolutely not.

'If it had not been the Seahawks (that were up for sale), I would not have been interested,' he said. 'This is the best football town in the whole country. All you have to do is come to a few games to get a feel of that.

'Some of the other (NFL) owners would kill to have the bunch of fans you have. You've got a great team coming up, and the stadium is filled every week.'

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Asked about players' salaries, Behring said there must 'be limits.

'I think things have to be kept under control,' he said. 'But the first thing, the most important thing to me, is to come up with a winning team. We have to be competitive.'

In addition to developing the 2,300-home Blackhawk community in Danville, east of San Francisco, Behring has developed the entire City of Tamarac and 10 country club communities in Florida.

His real estate credentials include more than 500 projects in the United States and abroad, including the development of dozens of apartment complexes, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels and other businesses.

Behring's empire began with a boyhood paper route and included a car dealership. The automobile remains a passion, and he has assembled one of the world's most expensive collections of classic cars, valued at about $100 million. He is scheduled next week to cut the ribbon at a new museum in Blackhawk designed to hold about 150 of the vehicles.

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