The long-awaited announcement of Rams' move to St. Louis was
made yesterday at the America's Center Convention complex in
downtown St. Louis. "It was part celebration, part pep-rally,
part theater. And Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere ... stole the
show," according to Jim Thomas in this morning's ST. LOUIS POST-
DISPATCH. Frontiere, a St. Louis native: "I'm so proud to be
able to come home after this long journey in my life." She was
introduced with Columbia, MO, businessman Stan Kroenke who
finalized his purchase of 30% of the team for $60M. The
unprecedented deal, outlined in yesterday's SPORTS BUSINESS
DAILY, virtually guarantees the Rams a annual $20M pretax profit
for a team that lost over $6M last year. Former Sen. Tom
Eagleton, spokesperson for FANS, Inc., the civic group who
negotiated the move, said the city must now "put up or shut up,"
as it faces a March 10 deadline to sell 40,000 permanent seat
licenses, or the Rams can void the deal. Yesterday, the two
public phone numbers to FANS, Inc. were "swamped" all day, and
Eagleton said more phone lines and operators will be installed
soon (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/18). The relocation
must be approved by 23 of the league's 30 owners at the NFL
league meetings in March in Phoenix. Vikings President & CEO
Roger Headrick told the L.A. TIMES that the vote was no "sure
thing": "One of the things you have to look at is the reasons
they lost money there" (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 1/18).
Giants Pres Wellington Mara: "I am very unhappy ... of one of our
teams leaving one of the largest markets in the country." Chiefs
Owner Lamar Hunt: "I'd rather see stability. The Rams have been
in California for years" (Lorraine Kee, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH,
1/18). Frontiere was confident of approval: "Most of the owners
have had problems of their own. They all realize the predicament
I've been in" (Michele Himmelberg, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/18).
LOCAL REAX: In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz writes: "We lost a
football team seven years ago, and no one felt sorry for St.
Louis. ... Orange County defaulted on its team" (ST. LOUIS POST-
DISPATCH, 1/18). Bob Oates of the L.A. TIMES writes: "Has L.A.
degenerated as a sports town? No ... The Rams aren't walking
away from something bad. They're headed for something better --
millions of dollars in luxury box revenues" (Bob Oates, L.A.
TIMES, 1/18). Bob Keisser of the Long Beach PRESS-TELEGRAM
writes: "In many ways, the Rams move behooves the NFL cartel.
One team here might prop up TV ratings for everyone" (Long Beach
PRESS-TELEGRAM, 1/18). Mike Downey of the L.A. TIMES blames poor
management on the Rams departure: "Management -- and I use this
word loosely -- of the Rams tore down this team, piece by
piece. ... This team that has been so completely mismanaged is
St. Louis' problem now and wait until the suckers they get stuck
paying the tab" (L.A. TIMES, 1/18).
INTERVIEW: Yesterday, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke with
the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER's Michele Himmelberg, who has covered
the Rams' move from the start. Himmelberg noted the team and
city have been at odds since the Rams moved South from the L.A.
in '80: "It's a bad marriage that's just gone sour and the $30
million payment back to Anaheim is the divorce settlement."
Himmelberg believes the city of Anaheim had no chance to keep the
team without support from surrounding communities: "What the city
of Anaheim has learned, and what Orange County has learned
through this whole process, is that it's too hard for [a area
that size] to stay in the professional sports market anymore."
She cited the team's lack of community involvement and poor on-
field performance, which created a loser at the box office. When
asked whether these tactics could have been planned by the Rams
to pave their way out of town, Himmelberg responded: "It looks
suspicious." However, Himmelberg said Rams fans "have really put
together a remarkable effort and have gotten a steady flow of
support" in an attempt to keep the team, and if they lose the
Rams, they may use their organization to lure an existing
franchise. Himmelberg mentioned the Raiders, Browns and
Cardinals as possible future tenants in Anaheim (THE DAILY).