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  1. #1
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    Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Friday, June 19, 2009
    FedEx’s Smith could deliver bid for Rams
    St. Louis Business Journal - by Christopher Tritto

    Fred Smith, founder, chairman, CEO and president of Memphis-based FedEx Corp., has joined the short list of people whose names are circulating as potential bidders for a majority stake in the St. Louis Rams.

    Smith has the financial resources to buy an NFL franchise. His nearly 20 million shares of FedEx stock alone are worth about $1 billion and his annual base salary tops $1.1 million. He already owns a 10 percent stake in the Washington Redskins — which he would have to sell — worth about $150 million, based on Forbes magazine’s $1.5 billion valuation of the team.

    Smith’s long-running relationship with the NFL and its owners, his business background, and his family’s passion for football would make him an ideal lead owner in the nation’s wealthiest and most prestigious sports league, industry sources say.

    “Fred Smith would be an owner straight out of central casting for the NFL,” said Mark Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. “He would be very well received in NFL circles. They know him well. He is an entrepreneur who built a business from scratch into one of the most successful companies in the world. He has a marketing and customer service background. He has a love of the game of football. And he looks the part.”

    Fans who fear that a new out-of-town owner would relocate the team might breathe easier if Smith steps up with a bid. His hometown of Memphis is not a likely candidate for a move due to its proximity to Nashville’s Tennessee Titans, sources said.

    “Fred Smith was, and has been for a long time, interested in obtaining an NFL franchise,” said Hall of Fame lineman Dan Dierdorf, the NFL broadcaster and former St. Louis football Cardinals star.

    “What makes him attractive in my mind is financially he is more than capable of the transaction,” Dierdorf said. “The NFL would not want two teams in Tennessee. Bud Adams, the (Titans) owner in Nashville, would have a fit. Smith would be a great choice because his hometown would not be a competitor with St. Louis. He could keep the Rams here long term.”

    Rams lead owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are exploring a sale of their 60 percent position. The son and daughter of late owner Georgia Frontiere have hired investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to review the assets of Frontiere’s estate, including the football team. Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

    Smith’s interest in football ownership dates back to at least the early 1990s when he helped bankroll a Memphis group that competed with St. Louis and three other finalist cities for one of two NFL expansion franchises. In 1993, when the league instead awarded expansion teams to groups in Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., Smith turned his attention to an alternate plan.

    In 1994, he and other investors explored starting a new football league to rival the NFL. The plan proposed corporate team ownership, and Smith’s FedEx considered forming a team in Memphis. But the so-called “A League” never materialized.

    Smith continued to develop ties to the NFL. In 1999, FedEx entered into a multiyear, $205 million naming-rights agreement with the Redskins for FedExField in Washington, D.C. The global express shipping company also is an extensive sports supporter beyond the NFL with sponsorships that include the PGA Tour’s FedExCup, college football’s FedEx Orange Bowl, a NASCAR race team owned by former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, and FedExForum, home to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers basketball.

    Smith finally broke into the NFL ownership ranks in August 2003 when he personally purchased a 10 percent stake in the Redskins and joined its leadership council, or board of directors. Since then, the team’s annual revenue has increased $100 million, or 44 percent, to $327 million, and the Redskins have become the second-most valuable franchise in the league behind the Dallas Cowboys, according to Forbes’ rankings.

    The Redskins connection has become a family affair. Smith’s son Arthur, who played on the offensive line for the University of North Carolina from 2001 to 2005, has worked as a defensive coach for the Redskins since 2007. Smith’s younger son, Cannon, is a sophomore backup quarterback at the University of Miami.

    Forbes estimates the Rams are worth $929 million. Whether such a value would hold up remains to be seen. The team had a 2-14 record last season, the recession is expected to have a negative effect on revenue, and the Rams play in a stadium that observers agree will not be among the top eight in the NFL by 2015 as required by the current lease.

    But if a bidder agrees the franchise is worth that much, the 60 percent stake owned by Rosenbloom and Rodriguez would cost about $557 million. A 30 percent stake, the minimum an individual majority owner must control under NFL rules, would cost about $279 million. If Smith can get an estimated $150 million for his share of the Redskins, he would be halfway there.

    And if Smith needs an introduction to Rosenbloom, Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke or others in the St. Louis community, he has a high-profile ally who can help open doors. August Busch IV, former CEO of Anheuser-Busch, is a FedEx director.
    ......


  2. #2
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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Good news. He would most likely be a solid owner.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    He is my Favorite choice between the prospective owners so far. The one wild card is the location of the franchise he has the money to keep it here or move it to wherever his heart desires.

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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    He is my Favorite choice between the prospective owners so far. The one wild card is the location of the franchise he has the money to keep it here or move it to wherever his heart desires.
    ......as long as his heart's desires correspond with the desires of a majority of NFL owners who would have to vote for it. But why move, when the team is already so close to his home? If Memphis is out of the question, they would have to be the Little Rock Rams to be any closer.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #5
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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    ......as long as his heart's desires correspond with the desires of a majority of NFL owners who would have to vote for it. But why move, when the team is already so close to his home? If Memphis is out of the question, they would have to be the Little Rock Rams to be any closer.
    Wanting to restart that rivalry with the Saints, do we?

  6. #6
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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    ......as long as his heart's desires correspond with the desires of a majority of NFL owners who would have to vote for it. But why move, when the team is already so close to his home? If Memphis is out of the question, they would have to be the Little Rock Rams to be any closer.
    That's what I was thinking. Memphis is probably about 4-5 hours away from St. Louis by car. Nobody in their right mind would move a team to Little Rock. The entire state of Arkansas has a population of less than 3 million, which is roughly equivalent to the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area.

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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    It seems a little presumptuous to assume that because he can't move the team to Memphis he'd not consider moving them out of St. Louis to elsewhere. I'd rather hear it from his mouth that he'd not want to relocate, than Dan Dierdorf's. Time will tell.

  8. #8
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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    I'm in Memphis visiting right now. He said he wouldn't move the Rams, because his jet could be in STL very quickly on Sunday's.

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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Kroenke would be a much better choice as he has a LOT more money and already is a part owner, (in addition to a ton of experience as a majority owner of other franchises), but smith would be perfectly acceptable to me.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Fred Smith (a potential bidder for a stake in the Rams)

    Like has been said I would love Kroenke to take full control of the Rams... also over the last few years hes know what Billy is all about and we would perhaps NOT have to start again with the new owner bring in HIS own guy... its all good...

    steve
    "The breakfast Club"

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