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Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The news out of St. Louis is not good. Mike Sando of ESPN.com has been following the reports of Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which indicate that the Rosenblooms are putting the Rams up for sale with estate taxes being a primary concern. Current owner Chip Rosenbloom has appealed to potential local buyers, but none have stepped forward. The team has lease-breaking conditions in the current agreement with the Edward Jones Dome, and the NFL wouldn't mind being back in L.A., since that's where its television network is. Doesn't take much to connect the dots...

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50 comments, Last at 03 Jun 2009, 9:25am

1 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The NFL *would* mind being back in LA. One team in the LA market is good; using the threat of the LA market as leverage in public-stadium-financing and other local government negotiations for 32 teams is better.

2 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

"using the threat of the LA market as leverage in public-stadium-financing and other local government negotiations for 32 teams is better."

Preach it, brother (or quite possibly "sister").

You mean to tell me that in the entertainment capital of the world, where USC's pro-like team is the toast of the town, with 20 million souls from which to draw, which would easily become one of the most sought-after destinations for any camera-ready night-lifin' free agent, and would serve as the ultimate spot for late afternoon and evening nationally-broadcast games, and no money-grubbing owner has just said, "SEE ya, Jacksonville!" and headed west for fame and fortune?

Either the league likes the threat of L.A. to hang over the heads of all other podunk markets, or the L.A. market isn't really a viable option after all.

Or maybe it's both.

3 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Well LA's complete unwillingness (it's not even inability) to put together any kind of stadium deal shows they really don't want a team. And with good reason, they're not in anybody's black out zone, they get the A game in every time slot, and most teams that are threatening to move stink (because teams that don't stink tend to have an easy time getting new facilities). Having lived in Tucson both before and since the Cards got the league to expand the circle let me tell you I MUCH preferred before.

And yes the league loves the threat, before LA emptied teams had to go get offers from other cities to make a good threat, that black hole in LA though means nobody has to go through any of that legwork.

11 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

As another Tucson person, I will vouch for how much the TV situation sucks because of the Cards...

LA's demonstrated unwillingness to do a stadium deal would IMO actually
make it much less of a threat (almost a non threat), given NFL demands for
public financing of stadiums. And even if their reasons are selfish, it still
is heartwarming to see a city tell the league where it can stick its demands
for public finanacing.

9 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Or maybe the league likes having multiple games on the air on Sunday afternoons there to tell advertisers that their message will reach a higher number of homes. A team in LA will lead to multiple blackouts, and thus, lost advertising revenue. Add the threat concept to this, and it would be foolish to move to LA.

Oh, and where would they play? They need to fix the Colisseum, and the state is broke...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

4 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Even before this, the Rams were having trouble selling tickets in St Louis. I live in STL and went to the Packers game in 2007. There were more Packers fans (including me) than Rams fans at the game. The following week was against Pittsburgh and my boss, a Steelers fan, said the same was true at her game - even though it was a Thursday night game. In an attempt to increase season ticket sales, single game tickets won't go on sale until August. Don't know if they'll go back to LA, but the new owner will have to have pretty deep pockets to buy the team regardless of where they end up. So they could be competitive again with new owners.

5 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Taxes for stadiums, estate taxes forcing owners to sell. . .the whole public/private partnership in sports is corrupt and a complete mess.

6 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Lets hear it for the London Rams!

Can see this running on easily through this season, if not longer, can't see anyone wanting to buy the Rams as they are. If they can win 4 or 5 games this season they become a much more attractive proposition for any market, but right now people in St Louis who've been going for a few years don't want to see them, why would someone with no prior attachment want to see them.

I say this as a Rams fan. It takes what, probably 2 years to move a team? Given a deadline of 2014 for the move (unless IIRC the EJ Dome is one of the top 10 stadiums in the league at that point) that means a 2012 deadline for someone to actually buy them and set the wheels in motion. No rush.

10 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I feel bad for St. Louis fans, but I'd rather have the Rams move back to LA than have the league create a 33rd team and stick it in LA, thereby messing up the balanced alignment the league currently has.

18 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I doubt you'll see a 33rd team anytime soon. The league really didn't care fore the imbalanced schedule with 31 teams, which is probably why the 32nd was added so quickly.

Anyhow, it sounds like this is just another 'threat' of moving the team to LA, in efforts to get St. Louis to pony up for the 'rights' to keep their recently-crappy team where it is.

I'm sure these new owners will run into the same issues when they look at relocating to LA; namely, no good venue, and little if any enthusiasm for the LA community to put a team there.

37 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Slightly OT, but as another Patriots fan, it's a little sobering to think that, had things gone a little differently, the Rams would still be in LA and we'd be talking about what city the Patriots (or whatever they would have been renamed in STL) would be moving to next.

41 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

When the league went to 32 teams, Tagliabue said they wouldn't expand again for years to come, maybe a decade or more, and that when they did, it would probably be onto foreign soil. Apart from LA, are there US cities crying out for an NFL team? As it is, towns like Jacksonville or Buffalo can barely hold onto theirs.

And they'd never do a single-team expansion again - that was just to repay Cleveland fans after they lost the Browns. I actually think you'd be more likely to see them go big, and add a full division to each conference over the course of the late 2010s/early 2020s. Say you add two teams, London and Mexico City. London has an insane amount of travel time compared to the rest of the league. The Bills, Pats, and Jets have half their away games within an hour flight. Stick London in that division, and they travel 9 hours and 5 time zones at the very minimum, 8 times a year.

By contrast, add an AFC Europe, with London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Now those teams have at least 3 jetlag-free away games, and 3 home games where the visiting team isn't jetlagged. Obviously, it's an uphill climb to break into that market, but as determined as the NFL is to do that, I think they'll do it right. Give the NFC another division with Mexico City, Vancouver, L.A., and some other team in the Western time zone, and you've got balanced conferences.

45 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I was stuck thinking the conferences had to be equal. If you made a an unbalanced conference this could actually work.

Add an 8 team 2 division conference to Europe. They play their divisional opponents twice, and their conference rivals once each year (which should lead to rivalries building up fast), then they play the 4 teams in the AFC and NFC that finished in the same position in their division. Which all adds up to a 18 game schedule. The American teams get 2 games added, one from each European division where they finished the same, so they have 18 games.

The only problem is that there is no guarantee of playing every team within a time frame.

12 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Was it not announced that the 49ers new stadium will be about 80% done with private money? I prefer 100%, but this better than the norm.

The idea of the Rams threatening a move 15 years after sticking their noses in the public trough in St. Louis is sickening. I hope they never win another game.

15 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The NFL doesn't really need LA as leverage over other cities to build new stadia. There's always another city to use as leverage.

The real issue in LA is that there's no NFL caliber stadium and, amazingly, no idiotic local pols lining up to vote tax payer dollars to build one. I suppose this is harder to do on the come for a team that's not yet in your city than it is for your hometown team. There's not even a sensible place to build a stadium. The most talked about ideas are, no kidding, City of Industry (every home game will be a Smog Bowl) -- which is mentioned by the supposed cognescenti mostly for being at the junction of a couple of freeways, for having lax zoning regs and for having a bunch of otherwise not very valuable land available. It is no small feat for the glitterati to make to the staples center from BH, the Westside and Malibu, but I promise none of them will go to City of Industry. Ever.

The non-cognescenti often mention Irvine as a sensible location. That made some sense, right up until the bursting of the RE bubble revealed that about seven people in all of "the OC" have jobs outside of real estate. So, no luxury box sales in the new OC = no stadium.

All that said, the Rose Bowl is a lovely place to tailgate and watch a game with 100,000 of your closest friends. Too bad bleachers aren't good enough for the modern day NFL!

19 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

That's a really interesting take--thank you.

Although, the operative phrase in These Hard Times should be, "There WAS always another city to use as leverage."

If it's not Toronto or Mexico City or L.A., what other metropolis doesn't have a professional team, can afford one, and wants one?

(Insert Detroit-based joke here).

20 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

That's a really interesting take--thank you.

Although, the operative phrase in These Hard Times should be, "There WAS always another city to use as leverage."

If it's not Toronto or Mexico City or L.A., what other metropolis doesn't have a professional team, can afford one, and wants one?

(Insert Detroit-based joke here).

22 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I'd recommend Portland, OR. Got the size, economy's in decent enough shape...don't know how enthusiastic the fan base is, but hey - they've stuck by the Trailblazers following years of subpar performance. The NFL couldn't be any worse.

Salt Lake City is another option. And Las Vegas (although the economy's getting slammed; and their cheerleaders would all have 'evening jobs').

21 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I remember what Art Rooney (maybe Dan) had to say about one of LA's 'presentations' to the NFL about moving in, and where they'd play.

The LA contingent, of course, presented the LA Coliseum. But they promised to clean it up, paint it, and add some more (minimal) surface touches.

Rooney said it was like 'putting a new dress on an old whore.'

16 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

I'd love to have a team in London, but I'd really rather it was an expansion franchise, not a move - I'd feel bad for fans in whichever city it came from, and I think the vitriol felt by fans in St. Louis (or wherever) would be double if the team was being moved outside the States as part of an overseas growth programme which I am (obviously) all in favour of, but which I quite understand is highly controversial. It seems to me that a four team expansion (London, San Antonio, LA twice, perhaps) would leave room for a perfectly sensible six division alignment - although it does potentially leave the Jags stuck in Jacksonville, which the league may not fancy.

Also, wasn't one upshot of the whole Browns-Ravens business that the league decided in future franchises would leave behind their names (and I think records) when they moved cities. So it'll be the London . . . what? Knights? Buses? Urban Foxes? Presumably not Queens, anyway.

24 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Why is it so terrible for the Jaguars to be "stuck" in Jacksonville?

Though sellouts have been a problem due to an oversized stadium, the Jaguars have middle-of-the-pack total attendance (19th or 20th in the league) and among the highest local TV ratings of any team (as high as 4th one year, I believe). It's a small TV market and there's no substantial nearby secondary market to provide support (as, e.g., the Bills have with Rochester/Syracuse, or the Saints have with the Mississippi gulf coast cities or Baton Rouge, or even Indianapolis with its tapping into Louisville and the smaller Indiana cities). But it's a growing market, and it's not as though the NFL suddenly discovered it's one of the smallest markets after putting the team there.

The Jaguars have substantial support and interest in the team in their community. Most of what you've read about empty seats or the NFL wanting out is a completely media-manufactured product, as several voices in the press who ridiculed the Jacksonville expansion effort still haven't gotten over the fact that the city got a team, and a Super Bowl host gig subsequently.

This is not to deny that a lack of corporate community support is a problem, since the largest corporations in the city either seem disinterested in supporting the team (CSX) or are facing financial troubles (Winn-Dixie, Fidelity National), and the corporations that were particularly supportive in the early Jaguar years tend to have been absorbed into larger, non-local corporations (Barnett Bank, First Union).

But most of what you hear casually mentioned about Jacksonville as having a lack of fans in the seats, or a lack of fan interest, is absolutely false.

25 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

San Antonio is the only other market that comes to mind that has an NFL-caliber stadium and a big enough market to support the NFL, especially when considering Austin as a nearby secondary market. But it's not particularly wealthy city and it already has one team to support in the Spurs. Also, the Cowboys have a massive traditional hold over Texas. This is one of the problems Jacksonville faces, a relative inability to draw support from good-sized markets 3 hours away in Orlando and Daytona, on account of the preexisting support for the Dolphins or Bucs.

And if I recall correctly, when San Antonio put in an expansion bid in 1993, it was rejected in part because the NFL doubted it could sell out the Alamo Dome with any regularity, even projecting for growth.

I'd write off Portland, though it has sufficient size and wealth. No NFL-caliber stadium, and the interest for a second pro team there seems to have tended toward baseball. I'd think it's a strong secondary supporting market for the Seahawks also. Salt Lake seemed to be staunchly Broncos territory when I visited there, has no NFL stadium, and already has a pro team to support in the Jazz.

36 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Having lived there for six years, I found it was a pretty even split of Niners and Broncos fans with the rest of the football fans being transplants. The University of Utah's recent football prowess (and BYU's longer legacy) has definitely sparked interest for football there and I could actually see a pro team doing well... if they could somehow get a stadium.

26 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The dominoes are still falling from when the NFL chose Jacksonville and Charlotte over Baltimore and St. Louis in the 1993 expansion vote.

St. Louis loses out and lures the Rams, leaving LA empty.
Baltimore loses out and in turn lures the Browns. Outrage ensues and the NFL promises an expansion team to Cleveland.
Expansion team in Cleveland makes for unbalanced league, so league adds Houston as 32nd team.
Now, the Rams could be going somewhere else. Maybe back to LA. Will the next move be Jaguars to St. Louis?

27 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

You'll see a lot stronger per capita interest in the Jaguars in Jacksonville than you will see for the Rams in St. Louis. Other than the Greatest Show years, St. Louis' collective response to football hasn't been particularly high. I don't think the NFL will be beating down the doors to push a team back into the St. Louis market should the Rams leave.

As a Jaguars fan I am much more concerned about the prospect of a future owner (not Wayne Weaver, who has shown a tremendous commitment to the city, but he's 74 and his children seem disinterested in inheriting the team) relocating the team to San Diego, should the Chargers bolt for LA at some point. The thought of a shift to St. Louis has never crossed my mind.

And to reiterate, while it is entirely accurate to say the Jaguars' moving is a possibility (post-Weaver, anyway), this apocalyptic vision that a lot of fans have of the Jags playing before a half-empty stadium and the NFL's desperately seeking a move isn't accurate at all. This is a Tony Kornheiser/Michael Silver fantasy that gains the status of fact my repetition.

32 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The economy still submarining (CA in particular is in serious trouble). Credit still hard to come by (necessary for construction). This is the worst time ever to try to move a franchise.

If the Rams fold, will the league let another owner declare bankruptcy? Who else is dropping out of the league?

40 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

There's a reason the NFL secured a line of credit for its member teams-it will avoid, at almost any possible cost, a team itself declaring bankruptcy. They'll prop them up as a league, and other owners will prop them up behind the scenes. Heck, the other owners might even tell them about it!*

*-NHL joke. AEG, owner of the LA Kings, loaned some money to Craig Leipold, owner of the Predators, on top of money Leipold had borrowed under NHL auspices, and kept the deal hidden from the league because it was a violation of Leipold's covenant with the NHL.

33 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

Ah, people. There already is a brand new stadium being built in the Los Angeles area (the City of Industry). Click my name to link to their webpage if you do not believe me.

L.A. is ripe for the plucking with a new stadium being built, it is the 2nd largest media market in the U.S., and has already proven that it could support an NFL football team.

34 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The only thing they've built so far is a website (and a scale model). California is the most precariously-financed state in the country, with a shockingly-bad housing market and declining revenue base.

The sale and move of any team to L.A. has to meet the approval of the owners, who:

1. Then won't be able to use L.A. as a bargaining chip
2. Won't get any proceeds from the sale and move, unlike the several hundred millions of expansion fees they get to split.

43 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

In April, the City of Industry approved the public financing of this stadium project. The only reason for the delay in the start of this construction project is that there have been challenges to Environmental Action report, and negotiations with neighboring communities about needed upgrades to infrastructure (wider streets, game-day security, etc.) if there was to be a stadium built.

To answer the question of the owners:

1. Owners no longer being able to use L.A. as a bargaining chip in future stadium-financing negotiations will be a problem. However, if the Rams do indeed move to L.A. than there is still an open viable venue for them to exploit (just no as inviting as L.A.). That is also saying that L.A. cannot support two teams. Remember the Raiders and the Rams only left L.A. because they both wanted a new stadium and did not get it, well now that stadium is now being built 15 miles outside of L.A.

2. The owners will not get any proceeds from the sale and move of a team to L.A., but they will receive any increases that will occur in the revenue sharing - from increases in the television contracts, from increased ticket sales, increase jersey sales, and a number of other things that are slipping my mind. For those reasons and by moving a team to a large open market will decrease the demand for any rival leagues (like the UFL, which is planning to put a team in L.A.) the owners would support this action. Another reason why owners would support moving a team instead of expansion is, by moving a team to L.A. instead of expanding the owners will also get to keep a larger portion of the revenue sharing pie. Owners would gain a short term revenue bump with expansion fees, how ever they will also be making less in the future in revenue sharing as the pie would have be cut 33 to 34 ways instead of the current 32.

47 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

If all of what you say is true, so has it been for the last 20 years. Why hasn't the league (and the owners) encouraged JAX. MIN. SD. BUF, STL, etc. to move there already?

Even if the owners are drooling over increases in things that have slipped your mind, a move would also remove those things previously generated by the prior market.

And if LA is going to be such a lucrative market (which I doubt), your points actually prove one more reason that the other owners would be hesitant to approve of a team in that market: they don't want to spawn another Jerry Jones/Dan Snyder revenue generator who can outearn and outspend the rest of the league.

39 Re: Rams Will Be Sold, Could Be Moved

The profit margin is steadily shrinking for owners. The price of ownership is steadily increasing. This makes NFL ownership a pretty bad financial investment, especially by comparison to 20 years ago.

Maybe you can get public funding for a stadium, but in LA the real estate price is still going to be prohibitive, IMO. Parking will be an issue. Finally, the people are more diverse and less interested in a specific NFL team.

As a result of all of these, I still think that the threat of LA team is greater than the likelihood of it happening (for now, especially). Is there any chance if St. Louis stays where they are that they could regain the Cardinals? :-)