SBD/10/Franchises

REPORT INDICATES TAGLIABUE TO RECOMMEND NO ON RAMS MOVE

     NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will notify all 30 teams
today "that he is recommending a vote against the Rams' proposed
move to St. Louis," according to Bill Plaschke in this morning's
L.A. TIMES.  A league source who spoke to Tagliabue said the
recommendation "was not final and could be changed" during the
owners' meeting that begins Sunday in Phoenix.  If eight owners
follow Tagliabue's recommendation, the move would be blocked.
But the Rams "will be given a chance to sway" owners by promising
to pay a relocation fee and a cut of the $70M raised by the sale
of PSL's (L.A. TIMES, 3/10).  Tagliabue "concedes" that the Rams
haven't shown significant operating losses for over a "sustained
period of time," one of the NFL's guidelines in approving a move
(Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 3/10).
     IN THIS CORNER:  Plaschke writes that Tagliabue's
recommendation "sounds much like a bargaining chip."  If he
recommended a yes vote, team owners would lose all leverage in
collecting financial fees from the Rams.  If the team does move,
L.A. would become "the leading candidate for an expansion team in
four of five years" and owners hoping for better stadium deals
will still have "leverage with their local city officials."  One
NFL exec: "While we are losing a big market in the short run, we
are gaining a lucrative expansion market in the long run" (L.A.
TIMES, 3/10).  Another possible factor in the Rams' favor is the
49ers proposal to reduce the number of votes necessary to pass
NFL legislation from 23 to 21, which could be voted on before the
Rams vote.  The Rams and St. Louis officials have also "laid the
groundwork" for suing the league if owners reject the move (Jim
Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 3/9).
     SAVE THE RAMS: Save the Rams, the civic group trying to keep
the team in the L.A. area, will present their case to NFL owners
early next week.  Possible speakers include CA Gov. Pete Wilson
and perspective team buyers, former Mariners Owner George Argyros
and banking executive William Foley (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY,
3/10).
     HELLO PETER, THIS IS AL:  The Raiders have been "carrying on
a discreet flirtation with Baltimore" according to USA TODAY's
Gordon Forbes (USA TODAY, 3/10).
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