SBD/7/Franchises

CAN FINANCIALLY-STRAPPED ORANGE COUNTY SAVE THE RAMS?

     Orange County, CA, became the largest municipality in U.S.
history to file for federal bankruptcy protection.  This
announcement came after an "all-day standoff" with Wall Street
bankers who "insisted" the county repay $1.2M in loans to "its
troubled investment pool."  The "stunning news" from one of the
nation's wealthiest (and most politically conservative) counties
"shook" the financial markets.  It also "raised questions about
the funding of dozens of major projects in the county," from a
Disneyland expansion to a possible new stadiums for the Rams and
Angels (Platte/Lait/Paltrow, L.A. TIMES, 12/7).  The county had
been in discussions about new facilities for both teams, but
Orange County Board Member William Steiner told the ORANGE COUNTY
REGISTER: "Right now, the county's involvement for a new stadium
has fallen off the priority list."  Wayne Wedin, a financial
consultant for Save the Rams, the Anaheim group trying to keep
the team in the area, also told the REGISTER that stadium plans
are not a "government-dependent effort and will primarily be a
private-sector effort."  Nonetheless, it is hard to see the
region extending itself to satisfy the Rams given Orange County's
financial crisis," writes Jim Thomas in St. Louis (ST. LOUIS
POST-DISPATCH, 12/7).  CNN's Casey Wian reports that Orange
County's investment losses might even be "double" the $1.5
billion that the county claims ("Moneyline," 12/6).
     HAVE THEY MOVED ALREADY?  In a chart profiling "About Orange
County" in today's USA TODAY, the Rams are not mentioned under
the subject heading:  "TEAMS."  Only the NHL Ducks and MLB Angels
are listed (USA TODAY, 12/7).
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