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Bengals set their deadline for Cincinnati _ Thursday

The Bengals have notified city and Hamilton County officials that they have until Thursday to conclude an agreement for a new stadium, Bloomberg News Service reported Saturday.

If an agreement cannot be signed, the Bengals will terminate discussions and begin exclusive negotiations with the Maryland Stadium Authority.

"I remain encouraged by the events of the past week in Cincinnati and I am optimistic that remaining unsettled issues can be resolved quickly," Bengals president Mike Brown said in a statement. "But it has to be made clear to everyone that we do not yet have an agreement, and that little time is left to get the deal done."

Brown has talked about moving the Bengals out of Cincinnati for the past few months. He recently rejected a proposed $250-million City Plaza domed stadium project.

Who needs the Raiders?

INGLEWOOD, Calif. _ A Hollywood Park executive said he is proceeding with plans to build a $250-million stadium adjacent to the thoroughbred racing track.

R.D. Hubbard, the track's chairman and CEO, said the stadium could be completed in time for the 1997 season if construction begins by Nov. 1.

"We're trying to go forward with this," Hubbard said one day after Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis signed a letter of intent to return the team to Oakland, scuttling plans to play in the proposed stadium at the track.

Raiders: More than 27,000 people flooded phone lines that gave information on how to purchase season tickets. In Oakland, of the 66,000 seats, the Raiders will offer 47,000 season tickets and about 5,000 general admission. The average cost of a ticket during the first season will be $50.

CFL: Quarterback Tracy Ham threw three touchdowns _ two to wide receiver Chris Armstrong _ as Baltimore defeated Birmingham 37-0 in exhibition play at the Orange Bowl. It was an audition to determine whether a franchise could thrive in Miami. There was an announced crowd of 20,250, which appeared inflated.

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