The Rams' move to St. Louis is close to complete, as "details and paperwork" appear the only obstacles keeping the team from making an announcement. Rams President John Shaw: "I think we are close to an agreement. ... if we get on the fast track it's conceivable we could have an announcement some time next week." It is also reported that MO-based businessman Stan Kroenke was finalizing his agreement to purchase up to 40% of the team. Kroenke would pay $80M for the share, and be given right of first refusal should the team be sold (T.J. Simers, L.A. TIMES, 1/11). The two "nagging" issues preventing the move -- the sale of permanent-seat licenses (PSL) and club and luxury boxes -- seem to have been resolved. FANS, Inc., the civic group trying to bring the Rams to St. Louis, has reportedly agreed to guarantee sales of 85% of the club and luxury boxes for an undetermined "long-time" period. The Rams have also "come down on their previous wish to have 50,000 seat licenses sold in about two months. FANS, Inc. spokesperson Tom Eagleton: "There's a definite closing of the gap. ... That means to me that we're going to get it done" (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/11). FANS is expected to announce a move early next week, although Shaw denied a KMOX report that the announcement could come Sunday. The team would then need to receive approval from 23 of the NFL's 30 team owners, most likely during the NFL winter meetings in March (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/11).
Stars President Jim Lites said that the Stars plan to "take advantage" of a loan program from the NHL. Lites: "We're looking at restructuring our ownership and we're taking some steps to overcome our lack of playing." Lites did not reveal how much the team has lost this season, but team Owner Norman Green said the amount they will borrow is "significant." The loans will be made available from the league against the team's right toward future shared league revenues, including TV and merchandise. Green is continuing to look for a partner for the franchise, but is not interested in selling the entire team (Mike Heika, FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/11).
Steve Story, spokesperson for the three-man trust in charge of selling the Buccaneers, said yesterday the trust is in "active negotiations" with three prospective buyers --Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, Palm Beach financier Malcolm Glazer, and a group represented by Jacksonville attorney Terry Moore. Story added that they have not "closed the door on accepting additional offer" (Buccaneers). This raised speculation that the trust may continue to hold on to the team, as there are questions regarding each ownership group. Sources told the Baltimore SUN that the trust appears to be "focusing their efforts on the bids from Angelos and Glazier," but that the trust has "concerns with all the bids." Questions surround Glazer's "financing plan" and "track record of exploring but not closing team purchases." Angelos' bid contains "a number of contingencies," and there are doubts if the NFL would approve him as owner or the relocation of the team. Angelos' investment group includes fellow Orioles partner and novelist Tom Clancy, and Angelos has said if cross- ownership is a problem he would "allow another investor to head the effort" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/11). This morning's St. PETERSBURG TIMES reports that all three prospective groups have ties to Baltimore, as Malcolm Glazer and Baltimore attorney Robert Schulman, a key investor with Terry Moore, have both tried in the past to bring teams to Baltimore. Orlando pencil manufacturer Gino Pala said he submitted an $150M offer to the trust on Tuesday, but admitted that the trust would likely be "disappointed in the bid" (Topkin & Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/11).