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Several baseball sources said they expect Twins Owner Carl Pohlad to remain as the team's owner for "at least a few more years," according to Jim Souhan in this morning's Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Speculation exist that Pohlad is looking to sell the team after the strike ends, but sources think he will hold onto the team because he "wants to play a key roll" in the building of a new baseball stadium in the area (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/17). T-WOLVES SIGN WITH OGDEN: The Timberwolves signed a 30-year arena-use agreement with Ogden Entertainment Services. Ogden has been managing the facility since it opened in '90, but new negotiations were required when the Target Center was officially sold last week (Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/17).
The Sharks will launch their own site on the Internet today which the team hopes will help them "communicate directly to its fans locally and around the world." The Sharks' home page is accessible through the World Wide Web at http://www.sj-sharks.com (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/17).
The NFL told Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere that for the Rams move to get league approval, she would have to sell the team, according to a report in today's L.A. TIMES. Rams President John Shaw said yesterday that the league wanted Frontiere to sell her share to 30% shareholder Stan Kroenke. They "also talked about prohibiting Frontiere from leaving the team to her heirs." Shaw called it "outrageous" and said he told the committee he thought it was punitive and "would take them to the wall on that." Shaw said by Wednesday the issue was off the table, as he felt the league had been advised by "counsel of their outrageous legal position." NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the sale of the Rams was not discussed, but Browns Owner Art Model admitted it was "an option she should explore." Modell: "I don't want to see her get hurt in this process." Modell said that helping "phase in a new owner" would be a "step in the right direction" (T.J. Simers, L.A. TIMES, 3/17). LAWYERS, GUNS, AND MONEY: Shaw said officials from St. Louis and the Rams will meet to discuss strategy. Shaw: "We will be aggressive. We (have) no other alternative" (Rick Gosselin, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/17). There are no plans to seek an immediate injunction that would permit the team to move immediately (Len Pasquarelli, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/17). The team will likely file suit by March 31 and Shaw believes they could win up to $2B in damages (Vito Stellino, Baltimore SUN, 3/17). Max Blecher, who represented the L.A. Coliseum Commission in the Raiders case, will direct the team's legal strategy. Blecher called the NFL "arrogant": "It's great to bring them down." One Rams official: "We're going for their throat" (L.A. TIMES, 3/17). FALLOUT: Shaw confirmed the Rams offered the league $25M, but said owners were not made aware of the proposal by Tagliabue. Tagliabue called that "absolutely untrue": "I said there would be a sharing of gross receipts. ... 34% of $74 million. You figure it out" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 3/17). One owner: "The Rams were arrogant and greedy. They never really wanted to try and work something out." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said he came to the meeting prepared to vote for the move, but later changed his mind. Kraft: "The Rams in St. Louis ... will be making $25 million while I'd be losing $10 million. In 1999 there is no salary cap and what kind of chance would I have trying to compete against that" (Will McDonough, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/16). MAKE EVERYBODY HAPPY: Tagliabue said the goal of the league is to have teams in both L.A. and St. Louis in "a short amount" of time. Whether that "meant some sort of compromise might lead to another vote, another round of expansion, or even that a different team might move to St. Louis in the near future wasn't clear" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/17). Tagliabue mentioned the possibility of the Bengals relocating to St. Louis (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/17). Gordon Forbes reports the Rams and the league will settle out of court, as the NFL isn't "about to allow a new $260 million dome to sit empty in St. Louis." To "satisfy" Fox, Forbes believes the NFL will place another team in Orange County and will help renovate Anaheim Stadium or fund a new facility, "maybe in Long Beach." There could be "hurry-up, two-team expansion" in the late '90's. Or, "more likely," the move of a team with a "stadium problem," such as the Bengals or Browns (USA TODAY, 3/17).
Two L.A.-based businessman have made a refundable deposit to the IHL for an expansion team that would play next year in San Diego. Steve Perry and Howard Silber met with City Manager Jack McGrory "for the third time in as many weeks and came away cautiously optimistic." Silber said there "was a good chance the IHL will be in San Diego next season." The one "sticking point" could be the city's unwillingness to guarantee an IHL franchise the chance to play in the proposed new arena downtown. City Mayor Susan Golding claims the city needs an NHL or NBA franchise "as the anchor tenant" to make construction financially viable (Trotter & Bloom, SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 3/16).