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Volume 24 No. 116

Franchises

     The Rams' move to St. Louis is close to complete, as
"details and paperwork" appear the only obstacles keeping the
team from making an announcement.  Rams President John Shaw:  "I
think we are close to an agreement. ... if we get on the fast
track it's conceivable we could have an announcement some time
next week."  It is also reported that MO-based businessman Stan
Kroenke was finalizing his agreement to purchase up to 40% of the
team.  Kroenke would pay $80M for the share, and be given right
of first refusal should the team be sold (T.J. Simers, L.A.
TIMES, 1/11).  The two "nagging" issues preventing the move --
the sale of permanent-seat licenses (PSL) and club and luxury
boxes -- seem to have been resolved.  FANS, Inc., the civic group
trying to bring the Rams to St. Louis, has reportedly agreed to
guarantee sales of 85% of the club and luxury boxes for an
undetermined "long-time" period.  The Rams have also "come down
on their previous wish to have 50,000 seat licenses sold in about
two months.  FANS, Inc. spokesperson Tom Eagleton:  "There's a
definite closing of the gap. ... That means to me that we're
going to get it done" (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH,
1/11).  FANS is expected to announce a move early next week,
although Shaw denied a KMOX report that the announcement could
come Sunday.  The team would then need to receive approval from
23 of the NFL's 30 team owners, most likely during the NFL winter
meetings in March (Himmelberg & Mouchard, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,
1/11).

     Stars President Jim Lites said that the Stars plan to "take
advantage" of a loan program from the NHL.  Lites: "We're looking
at restructuring our ownership and we're taking some steps to
overcome our lack of playing."  Lites did not reveal how much the
team has lost this season, but team Owner Norman Green said the
amount they will borrow is "significant."  The loans will be made
available from the league against the team's right toward future
shared league revenues, including TV and merchandise.  Green is
continuing to look for a partner for the franchise, but is not
interested in selling the entire team (Mike Heika, FORT WORTH
STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/11).

     Steve Story, spokesperson for the three-man trust in charge
of selling the Buccaneers, said yesterday the trust is in "active
negotiations" with three prospective buyers --Orioles Owner Peter
Angelos, Palm Beach financier Malcolm Glazer, and a group
represented by Jacksonville attorney Terry Moore.  Story added
that they have not "closed the door on accepting additional
offer" (Buccaneers).  This raised speculation that the trust may
continue to hold on to the team, as there are questions regarding
each ownership group.  Sources told the Baltimore SUN that the
trust appears to be "focusing their efforts on the bids from
Angelos and Glazier," but that the trust has "concerns with all
the bids."  Questions surround Glazer's "financing plan" and
"track record of exploring but not closing team purchases."
Angelos' bid contains "a number of contingencies," and there are
doubts if the NFL would approve him as owner or the relocation of
the team.  Angelos' investment group includes fellow Orioles
partner and novelist Tom Clancy, and Angelos has said if cross-
ownership is a problem he would "allow another investor to head
the effort" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/11).  This morning's
St. PETERSBURG TIMES reports that all three prospective groups
have ties to Baltimore, as Malcolm Glazer  and Baltimore attorney
Robert Schulman, a key investor with Terry Moore, have both tried
in the past to bring teams to Baltimore.  Orlando pencil
manufacturer Gino Pala said he submitted an $150M offer to the
trust on Tuesday, but admitted that the trust would likely be
"disappointed in the bid" (Topkin & Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES, 1/11).