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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Frontiere's illness raises questions about the future of the franchise

    By Bernie Miklasz

    The news of Georgia Frontiere's hospitalization is distressing. More than anything, we wish her well. Frontiere, 80, has been a positive owner for the St. Louis Rams. She brought the NFL back to her hometown in 1995, won the Super Bowl five seasons later, and for a time her Rams showcased one of the most entertaining offenses in NFL history.

    None of this would have transpired without Frontiere.

    Did Frontiere increase her wealth by taking the Rams out of Southern California and relocating them to St. Louis? Well, sure. Just as Walter O'Malley profited immensely by transporting baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles.

    After the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl, Frontiere accepted the Lombardi Trophy from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who attempted to block the move from LA.

    Football fans here resented Tagliabue at the time. Frontiere scored points when she zinged Tagliabue on the victory stand (in a televised ceremony) by declaring, "It proves that we did the right thing in going to St. Louis."

    Good times.

    Frontiere has allowed team executives John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt to run the organization. They delivered some excellent years, like the "Greatest Show" era. But today the team is in decline, and disarray. With Shaw often in LA, and Zygmunt immersed in football operations (not his strong suit), there's a leadership void at Rams Park.

    Frontiere's undisclosed illness has kept her in the hospital, off and on, for several months, according to a source close to the owner. Her adult children, Dale "Chip" Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, are understandably protective of their mother's privacy. So much that even some of Frontiere's closest confidantes at Rams Park have no specific knowledge of the nature or severity of her condition.

    All of this raises questions about the future of the franchise. How long does Frontiere plan to hold on to the Rams? Will she sell the team? Will she transfer the Rams to Chip and Lucia? And where does minority ownership partner Stan Kroenke fit in?

    Kroenke owns a 40 percent stake in the Rams and has the right of first refusal on any sale. But Kroenke also owns multiple sports franchises (including NBA, NHL and MLS) in Denver. The NFL prohibits cross ownership, so Kroenke wouldn't be approved as the Rams' majority partner unless he sells the Denver franchises.

    In the past, it's been speculated that Kroenke would be able to work out something with the NFL ... but not so fast. The NFL is inflexible on the rule. "Stan would have real trouble with the league" in trying to purchase control of the Rams, according to one source in the NFL office.

    OK, so Frontiere could hand the team to Chip and Lucia. But Forbes Magazine estimates the Rams' value at $908 million, meaning that Frontiere's children would have to navigate through some major, but not insurmountable, tax issues.

    Lucia is a homemaker; I don't know her well enough to speculate on her desire to own an NFL franchise. Chip is a respected filmmaker and family man in LA. He's happy in his career, and has a number of big projects in development. But Chip has, in the past, represented his mother at a few NFL owners' meetings.

    I've had a few conversations with Chip through the years. I found him to be smart, personable (but low key), and a gentleman. If Kroenke can't buy the Rams, Chip Rosenbloom would be a fine owner.

    But that raises another question: Would Chip really want to hold on to the Rams, long-term? One who knows Rosenbloom well told me that the Chip would want to own the Rams but would probably sell after a few years.

    With Georgia Frontiere confined to a hospital, and with her franchise in St. Louis experiencing a terrible season, there's no telling what the future holds. It's a confusing, frustrating and uncertain time for Rams fans. And it's a long way from that triumphant Super Bowl victory parade down Market Street, when the Rams and Frontiere where the king and the queen of the NFL.

  2. #2
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    Re: Frontiere's illness raises questions about the future of the franchise

    I hope they move to Canada... do it now before the Bills roll into town!

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Frontiere's illness raises questions about the future of the franchise

    I can't decide if that article was informative, or just plain ghoulish.

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