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At a 3:00pm EST news conference, the Rams will officially announce their intention to leave Southern California after 49 years and move to St. Louis, according to this morning's L.A. TIMES. Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere and team President John Shaw will "join a long list of political and business dignitaries at the news conference, during which MO-based businessman Stan Kroenke will be introduced as the team's new minority owner. The deal was finished Monday night, as officials and attorneys "celebrated with a private reception and dinner at the Ritz- Carlton in St. Louis" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/17). ON GEORGIA'S MIND: The move became official over the weekend, when in an exclusive interview with the L.A. TIMES, Frontiere expressed her disappointment about leaving: "We borrowed to our limit to try and keep it in Anaheim. We've gone as far as we can go." Frontiere admitted she was sorry for the fans of L.A., but added: "Maybe if they had reacted sooner, and with some passion ... but it wasn't like that. It was like, 'Oh well, let them go.'" Frontiere said she "had a good feeling about" St. Louis, although "it's a bit more laid back than California" (T.J. Simers, L.A. TIMES, 1/15). The league must formally approve the move at the owners meetings in March. THE DAILY has learned that officials in the L.A. area will hold a news conference today to outline plans to lure another franchise to Southern CA. DONE DEAL: The Rams will "reap one of the most lucrative enticements deals in pro sports history," with yearly profits of over $20M, according to Jerry Bonkowski in this morning's USA TODAY. The Rams receive: A new 70,000 seat domed stadium to be completed in October '95 -- they will open next season at Busch Stadium; a guarantee from FANS, Inc., the civic group who negotiated the deal, that 85% of luxury boxes and club seats will be sold for the next 15 years, with all home-team proceeds going to the team; the $60M-$70M raised from the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses (PSL) will be used to pay off $30M in stadium improvements to Anaheim Stadium, enabling the team to get out of its lease, cover the Rams legal and moving expenses, and anticipated team losses this season. There is also speculation that Shaw will receive a "'finder's fee' of a few million dollars for orchestrating the move," but Shaw denied this. The Rams have asked St. Louis to guarantee a minimum of 40,000 PSL's sold before the league's annual spring meeting in March. If the figure is not reached, the Rams have the right to void the deal. About 50,000 PSL's will go on sale this week, priced at $250 to $4,500. A 23% deposit will be required. In a "complicated agreement," Kroenke will purchase 30% of the team for a reported $60M (Jim Thomas, St. Louis POST-DISPATCH, 1/15). REAX: NBC commentator Bob Costas, a St. Louis native: "We lost a team; now we've hijacked someone else's. I would have preferred an expansion team -- it's cleaner, there is less heartache for someone else. ... Plus, I don't like how it's so corporate, so high-finance. I know it's the way of sports in the 1990's, but to have to pay a premium price to sit in a seat to meet the demands of a franchise that left a community so I can watch guys run around on a rug? (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/17). Paul Much, a financial adviser for several pro teams, called the deal "an unprecedented concession to a team, and a significant investment in the team and the city of St. Louis." Tom Sullivan, who heads The Campaign for Better Government in St. Louis: "I don't see any way people are going to ante up that much for PSL's" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/15).
Malcolm Glazer, the 66-year old Palm Beach financier, reached agreement yesterday with the trustees of the Hugh Culverhouse estate to buy the Buccaneers, according to this morning's ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. The Bucs and Glazer "refused to disclose the price, but said it was the highest ever paid for a sports franchise," surpassing the $185M paid last year of the Eagles. Because he made a "multi-tiered offer," the final purchase price could reach $192M if a new stadium is built in Tampa. There was speculation that Glazer would move the franchise, but he is committed contractually to keeping the team in Tampa for a minimum of two years and said he has no intention of leaving. Glazer: "I sure as heck would rather own a team in Tampa than I would in Baltimore. ... The Buc stops here. Tampa Bay is going to have this team forever as far as the Glazers are concerned." Steve Story, the spokesperson for the three-man trust in charge of selling the team, said the Glazer bid won out over higher offers because of Glazer's commitment to Tampa: "They showed every intent of keeping the team in Tampa. That's been the trust's intent from Day One" (Mark Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/17). Jack Donlan, another member of the trust, told the TAMPA TRIBUNE: "We had a lot of guys saying 'Yeah, we'll try to keep it there' or 'We'll see what we can work out'." The move must be approved by NFL owners during their annual meetings in March. Glazer said a new stadium would have to be built, and plans a series of meetings about stadium issues and "improving the community's financial support for the franchise" (Henderson & Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/17). REAX: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos, who reportedly upped his offer to $211M over the weekend, was "disappointed" and hoped the deal would not be closed (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/17). Angelos said of Glazer's offer: "It would be a mistake to spend that kind of money to keep a team in Tampa" (Joel Poiley, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/17). Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner did not comment on the sale, but his hopes of seeing the team stay in Tampa appeared fulfilled.