MD Gov. William Schaefer heads to L.A. for an "economic development trip" this weekend during which he is expected to meet with Rams officials. Schaefer has made a Baltimore NFL franchise "a top priority" for the remainder of his term. Rams spokesperson Heidi Sinclair said a "courtesy meeting" between Schaefer and Rams president John Shaw "appears" likely to take place. Orioles owner Peter Angelos is also expected to be in L.A. this week. (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 9/13). In a related piece, Ken Rosenthal calls Angelos "the Napoleon of baseball owners, exiled to Elba" and reports he has made the NFL franchise his "new diversion" (Ken Rosenthal, Baltimore SUN, 9/13). SOUR GRAPES? Rosenthal responds to the announcement that the Buccaneers are not for sale: "Who are these people kidding? Of course, the Bucs are for sale. They're just trying to dupe their fans into believing otherwise, so that maybe more of them will come to games" (Baltimore SUN, 9/13). But in Tampa this morning, Joe Henderson counters that the Bucs "were never for sale" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/13).
Grocery magnate Steve Stavro has decided not to appeal an Ontario court injunction "blocking his takeover" of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd., "but he does plan to fight the civil suit filed against him by the Public Trustee of Ontario." The Public Trustee is suing to "nullify" Stavro's purchase of the 60% interest in MLG owned by the Harold Ballard estate. The Public Trustee, which oversees charities and trusts, "has charged that Stavro breached his fiduciary duty to the Ballard estate, which is responsible for seven charities, by using his position" as executor of the Ballard estate to buy MLG shares "below their true market value." Stavro attorney Brian Bellmore did not rule out the possibility of an out-of-court settlement at some point, but said, for now, the "appropriate way to deal with this" is by going to trial. One MLG shareholder, Red Wings VP Jim Devellano, said Stavro should "take the high road" and return the shares to the Ballard estate, to avoid the court battle. Bellmore estimates that it will take about a year for the case to be heard, "after which there could be appeals" (William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13). BALLARD ESTATE UPDATE: The Ballard estate has paid the National Bank more than C$3M to "settle a claim on a loan guarantee" by Harold Ballard. The estate used proceeds from the May '94 sale of 60% interest in MLG to settle the claim. The estate collected about $70M from the sale but the Trustee's challenge could throw the payment and other debts settlement in doubt (Tony Van Alphen, TORONTO STAR, 9/13). LABATT WATCH: John Labatt Ltd. holds its annual shareholders meeting today. JLL is mentioned as a possible buyer of MLG Ltd. (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/12).