TAGLIABUE WANTS TEAMS IN ST. LOUIS AND L.A.; RAMS TO COURT?
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.
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).