SBD/Issue 168/Franchises

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  • Rams Affirm Commitment To St. Louis Amid Inquiries About Sale

    Rams Co-Owner Confirms That Groups Have
    Reached Out To Him About Buying Team
    Rams co-Owner Chip Rosenbloom yesterday confirmed that he "has been approached about selling the team but reiterated his family's interest in keeping" the Rams in St. Louis, according to Bill Coats of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Late Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere, Rosenbloom's mother, died in January, and Rosenbloom said, "When a team is passed from one generation to another, it becomes a calling card that the team must be for sale. Nothing has changed since my mom's passing. We've been approached by several people. And while we deal with her estate, I can assure you we have every intention of keeping the Rams in St. Louis." Yahoo Sports yesterday reported that the Rams were "being shopped in the [$850-900M] range," and a NFL source said that the sale of the Rams "is being discussed in league circles." Former 49ers Owner Eddie DeBartolo "speculated on a new owner moving the Rams out of St. Louis," possibly to L.A., but the team's lease with the Edward Jones Dome "ties the franchise to the city through 2015." Coats notes the Rams can "choose to opt out of the agreement in 2015 if dome facilities -- everything from seats to the playing surface -- do not rank in the top quarter" of NFL stadiums. America's Center Dir Bruce Sommer, whose company manages the dome, said that "an attempt to move out of St. Louis" prior to 2015 would "trigger a court challenge." Sommer: "There is a lease -- they can be sued. Whether or not we have a specific provision -- penalties or what have you -- I just don't recall. In the 13 years they have been there, it just has not been a topic" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).

    OWNING UP: In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes Rosenbloom said that he is "not shopping the team, and that's precisely what the city deserved. That was the 800-pound elephant that was standing in the middle of the room since the day Rosenbloom took over the franchise. Rosenbloom kept saying that as long as he owns the Rams, they're safe in St. Louis, but no one ever denied the team was for sale." Burwell: "That doesn't mean that somewhere down the line Rosenbloom won't sell the team, but with an airtight lease with the city that guarantees at least eight more years in the Edward Jones Dome -- and a clear-cut promise from the new owner -- the fear that someone was once again on the verge of committing franchise grand larceny against this football community should officially be put to bed" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21). Also in St. Louis, Jeff Gordon writes speculation of a sale "will dog Rosenbloom constantly, since he isn't a football guy at heart and he has no real allegiance to St. Louis." But Gordon writes, "We have no real reason to doubt Rosenbloom. Nothing in his background suggests he would mislead St. Louisians, even for business purposes. We can only judge him by his actions, which so far have been positive. But business is what it is. ... Rams fans should be aware, and wary" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/21).

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  • Simultaneous Red Wings, Pistons Games Create Dilemma For Fans

    Daly Says Conflicting Dates For
    Detroit Fans Were Unavoidable
    Detroit-area fans will be "left to choose between watching the [Red] Wings or the Pistons" on both Saturday and Monday night, as both teams are scheduled to host playoff games starting within 30 minutes of each other, according to Tim Twentyman of the DETROIT NEWS. The Red Wings will host the Penguins for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, while the Pistons will play the Celtics in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Red Wings Senior VP/Business Affairs Steve Violetta: "It's out of our controls, meaning the Red Wings and Pistons both. The league dictates who plays on what playoff schedule and a lot of that is driven by television" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/21). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly: "If we could have avoided it, we would have, so the people in the Detroit market who might want to watch both could. But we established our schedule weeks ago." Daly added, "The NBA was aware of what our days were, but I guess they have to do what's best for them."  NBA Commissioner David Stern said that the dates for the NBA Conference Finals were "locked in last summer." Daly said that the NHL's "chief concern" is that "casual fans will have to make a choice rather than boosting the ratings of each game" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).

    BLAME CANADA? ESPN.com's Eric Adelson wrote while the NHL "gets a mulligan for scheduling" the Amp Energy Winter Classic against college football bowl games on January 1, it now has committed a "far worse offense: The first three games of the Stanley Cup finals will be played at the same time as Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals." NHL VP/Media Relations Frank Brown said of the scheduling, "We have rights-holders. CBC has aired 'Hockey Night in Canada' on Saturday night for 50 years." But Adelson wrote does "anyone really think the Knicks and Rangers would be pitted against each other three times in six playoff nights?" Brown said the scheduling overlap is "one of those freakish things that happen" (ESPN.com, 5/20).

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  • Spurs May Switch Carriers Mid-Playoffs After Night On Tarmac

    Spurs Could Switch Airlines Carriers After
    Being Stranded On Tarmac In New Orleans
    A mechanical problem with the Spurs' plane that forced the team to "spend seven hours on a tarmac in New Orleans early Tuesday morning could result in the [Spurs] switching charters midway through" the Western Conference Finals, according to an NBA source cited by Tom Orsborn of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Minnesota-based Champion Air, the Spurs' carrier, in April "declared bankruptcy and announced it would ground its 16-plane fleet May 31," but the NBA and the Spurs at the time said that the team would "continue flying the airline through the playoffs or until further notice." But the source said that there is a "good chance the Spurs could start using another carrier even before Champion ceases operations." The source said that candidates include a "major airline carrier and a well-known charter entity." The source added that Northwest Airlines next season will be the Spurs' carrier. The Spurs spent "about 11 hours on the plane" after their Monday night win over the Hornets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals, as a convention in New Orleans had filled the hotels, forcing the team to "spend the night on the tarmac until a new plane arrived" around 6:30am CT (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/21).

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