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RAMS HOLD CELEBRATION IN ST. LOUIS; FRONTIERE RETURNS "HOME"
Published January 18, 1995
The long-awaited announcement of Rams' move to St. Louis was made yesterday at the America's Center Convention complex in downtown St. Louis. "It was part celebration, part pep-rally, part theater. And Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere ... stole the show," according to Jim Thomas in this morning's ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH. Frontiere, a St. Louis native: "I'm so proud to be able to come home after this long journey in my life." She was introduced with Columbia, MO, businessman Stan Kroenke who finalized his purchase of 30% of the team for $60M. The unprecedented deal, outlined in yesterday's SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY, virtually guarantees the Rams a annual $20M pretax profit for a team that lost over $6M last year. Former Sen. Tom Eagleton, spokesperson for FANS, Inc., the civic group who negotiated the move, said the city must now "put up or shut up," as it faces a March 10 deadline to sell 40,000 permanent seat licenses, or the Rams can void the deal. Yesterday, the two public phone numbers to FANS, Inc. were "swamped" all day, and Eagleton said more phone lines and operators will be installed soon (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/18). The relocation must be approved by 23 of the league's 30 owners at the NFL league meetings in March in Phoenix. Vikings President & CEO Roger Headrick told the L.A. TIMES that the vote was no "sure thing": "One of the things you have to look at is the reasons they lost money there" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/18). Giants Pres Wellington Mara: "I am very unhappy ... of one of our teams leaving one of the largest markets in the country." Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt: "I'd rather see stability. The Rams have been in California for years" (Lorraine Kee, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/18). Frontiere was confident of approval: "Most of the owners have had problems of their own. They all realize the predicament I've been in" (Michele Himmelberg, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/18). LOCAL REAX: In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz writes: "We lost a football team seven years ago, and no one felt sorry for St. Louis. ... Orange County defaulted on its team" (ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH, 1/18). Bob Oates of the L.A. TIMES writes: "Has L.A. degenerated as a sports town? No ... The Rams aren't walking away from something bad. They're headed for something better -- millions of dollars in luxury box revenues" (Bob Oates, L.A. TIMES, 1/18). Bob Keisser of the Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM writes: "In many ways, the Rams move behooves the NFL cartel. One team here might prop up TV ratings for everyone" (Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM, 1/18). Mike Downey of the L.A. TIMES blames poor management on the Rams departure: "Management -- and I use this word loosely -- of the Rams tore down this team, piece by piece. ... This team that has been so completely mismanaged is St. Louis' problem now and wait until the suckers they get stuck paying the tab" (L.A. TIMES, 1/18). INTERVIEW: Yesterday, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke with the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER's Michele Himmelberg, who has covered the Rams' move from the start. Himmelberg noted the team and city have been at odds since the Rams moved South from the L.A. in '80: "It's a bad marriage that's just gone sour and the $30 million payment back to Anaheim is the divorce settlement." Himmelberg believes the city of Anaheim had no chance to keep the team without support from surrounding communities: "What the city of Anaheim has learned, and what Orange County has learned through this whole process, is that it's too hard for [a area that size] to stay in the professional sports market anymore." She cited the team's lack of community involvement and poor on- field performance, which created a loser at the box office. When asked whether these tactics could have been planned by the Rams to pave their way out of town, Himmelberg responded: "It looks suspicious." However, Himmelberg said Rams fans "have really put together a remarkable effort and have gotten a steady flow of support" in an attempt to keep the team, and if they lose the Rams, they may use their organization to lure an existing franchise. Himmelberg mentioned the Raiders, Browns and Cardinals as possible future tenants in Anaheim (THE DAILY).