Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere took her case for moving the team to St. Louis to fellow NFL owners yesterday in Dallas. The league will now study the proposal before Commissioner Paul Tagliabue makes a recommendation on whether to approve or reject the move before the league's spring meeting in March. During a "privileged" conference with team owners, Tagliabue said the issue of a relocation fee and the Rams plans for revenue they will receive from PSL's "was discussed, but not in detail." He declined to say if the league would ask for such a fee, or how much it would be. The Rams have stated they shouldn't have to pay a relocation fee (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 2/17). NOT A SLAM DUNK: League sources "indicated several owners are not yet convinced the Rams have met the league's criteria for relocation." One NFL source: "This is not a slam dunk by any means" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 2/17). ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported last night that the league is "most concerned" about the Rams' failure to negotiate "in good faith" with parties in Southern CA to remain in the area. Save the Rams, a Southern CA civic group, has been given 30 days by the league "to document it's promise to build a new stadium for the Rams." Mortenson says if Save the Rams is successful in proving their claims, the Rams move "won't be rubber stamped, and will spark serious debate" at the owners meeting in March ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/16). If the Rams pay a large moving fee, "they'll get the votes next month," according to Bernie Miklasz. Miklasz says the reason for the "foot-dragging" in the move is that the NFL is "a cartel, run by a control-freak commissioner" (ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 2/17).
The new ownership of the Heat took out a full-page ad in Thursday's MIAMI HERALD and Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL to reassure fans of their commitment to winning. The ad leads: "We Must Admit The Heat Hasn't Exactly Set The World On Fire" and features typical complaints from Heat fans, such as: "The Heat Doesn't Know How to Draft ... How Could We Blow A 20 Point Lead? ... Do Something, Anything." The team's response is written at the bottom: "Enough said. We've heard it all. ... So, we're making changes." The ad announces the recent personnel changes and offered a fan give-a-way held at last night's game against the Knicks. The ad ends: "Join Us. ... But hold on to your seats. We're giving it our best shot" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/16). HEAT WAVE: Heat fans have to give new Heat Owner Micky Arison "credit" for trying to improve the team, according to Edwin Pope of the MIAMI HERALD. Arison "controls the Heat and he can do whatever he wants" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/16). The HERALD also featured a lengthy, Q&A with new GM Dave Wohl. Wohl on the building process: "By the fifth year, I'd like to be in the NBA Finals" (Bob Rubin, MIAMI HERALD, 2/16).
Rockies limited partner Oren Benton, once viewed as one of the richest men in CO, personally owes creditors $400M and may have to sell his share in the team. Benton, who deals in uranium, was sued for failure to deliver $1M of uranium to an English utility and for his inability to pay some of his employees. Benton, who meets with creditors today, claimed that his problems would not affect the Rockies, and "another general partner of the team said Benton's nearly 25% interest would never be offered publicly for sale." Rockies General partner Charles Monfort said he and fellow Rockies partner Jerry McMorris would be able to purchase Benton's stake "if necessary." Benton's share is reportedly worth between $30M-40M. Benton's debts grew out of uranium trading (Alex Berenson, DENVER POST, 2/17).