SBD/Issue 168/Franchises

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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