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  1. #1
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    LA move is unlikely for Rams

    LA move is unlikely for Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    06/07/2009

    Eli Broad, Michael Ovitz, Ron Burkle, Ed Roski and more. The names mean little or nothing to St. Louisans. But they were among the big money men, the movers and shakers, who came and went in Southern California — all determined to bring pro football back to the Los Angeles area. Eventually, they were toppled like so many tin soldiers.

    Along the way, there have been proposed stadiums and stadium sites with glamorous pasts and glitzy names — from the Rose Bowl to the Coliseum, to Hollywood Park, to Chavez Ravine. And some not so glitzy — from the gravel pits in Irwindale to the former toxic waste dump in Carson, to the city of Industry.

    Amazingly, 14 years have passed since the Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles in 1995.

    Amazingly, the nation's second-largest market has gone twice as long without a National Football League franchise as St. Louis — which went seven seasons without a team from 1988 to 1995 between Bill Bidwill's Cardinals and Georgia Frontiere's Rams.

    Despite Roski's current effort to build a stadium in tiny Industry (pop. 800), the prospect of getting an NFL team back in the LA area seems as remote as ever. The reasons remain unchanged, with lack of unified political leadership and absolutely zero appetite for any public taxpayer support heading the list.

    Leigh Steinberg, the one-time super agent who co-chaired a Save the Rams group in the early 1990s that tried to keep the team in Anaheim, hates to say I told you so, but ...

    "I recall saying at the time that if we lost the Rams, we would lose the Raiders," Steinberg told the Post-Dispatch on Friday. "And it would be 20 years, if ever, before we got an NFL team back in Southern California. And people said, 'Oh no, no, you're wrong. The NFL has to have a team back in the nation's second-largest market. The television contract would demand it.'"

    But the television ratings for the NFL have been just fine, thank you, without a franchise in LA. In fact, each new television contract has been more lucrative than its predecessor. As the years roll by, the NFL is doing fine without LA. And LA doesn't seem to miss the NFL.

    "Here we are (in 2009)," Steinberg said. "And we're not one step closer to having a team. In some ways we're further away."

    Just don't tell that to the angst-ridden gridiron fans of St. Louis. Spurned once by Bidwill's Big Red, they're wondering if lightning will strike twice. With the Rams' franchise now up for sale, and with lease issues looming at the Edward Jones Dome, could the Rams somehow find their way back to Los Angeles?

    "It would kind of be poetic to have the Rams go back to Los Angeles, but a billion dollars for a stadium isn't poetry," said Charlotte (N.C.)-based sports consultant Max Muhleman. "It kind of saddens me to see even the possibility of St. Louis losing a team, because so many people came together at the end there (to get the Rams)."

    Muhleman is considered the "godfather" of the PSL, or personal seat license. That concept helped provide about two-thirds of the money to build the Carolina Panthers' stadium when Charlotte was awarded an expansion franchise in 1993. (The team began playing in 1995.) Not long after, Muhleman was on retainer in St. Louis to help raise about $70 million in PSL money to facilitate the 1995 move of the Rams from Anaheim to St. Louis.

    At the time, Muhleman called the St. Louis dome "the finest indoor facility ever built." Since then, however, two-thirds of the NFL franchises have either new or massively rebuilt stadiums. The dome is far from "state of the art" these days.

    Although team owner Chip Rosenbloom has yet to confirm it publicly, the Rams franchise is on the market — at least the 60 percent owned by him and sister Lucia Rodriguez. Given the prior loss of the football Cardinals, and with Los Angeles still looming as a vast open market, Muhleman understands why there might be a sudden sense of panic by football fans in St. Louis.

    "There should be," he said.

    Not that he or anyone else expects the team to leave St. Louis for Los Angeles. That remains highly unlikely for a variety of reasons, including the lack of a stadium in LA and the league's overall reluctance to see franchises relocate. But consider this doomsday scenario:

    — If lease provisions that the Edward Jones Dome maintain "top tier" status (among the NFL's top eight stadiums) cannot be met, the Rams basically can be free to move after the 2014 season.

    — There has been recent sentiment in the NFL to hold the Super Bowl in Los Angeles after the 2016 season, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl, which was played in LA. Under current NFL policy, Super Bowls can only be held in cities that have an NFL franchise.

    It doesn't take much imagination to connect the dots.

    Not that he thinks it would happen, but if it did, Steinberg doesn't think there would be anything resembling torchlight parades or civic glee for the return of the Rams. In 2016, 22 years will have passed since the Rams played their last game in Southern California.

    When you combine normal generational changes with continuing Latin immigration, Steinberg estimates that two-thirds of the Los Angeles County population will not remember, or have any kind of attachment, to the old LA Rams.

    "So it would not be a homecoming for a majority of the people," Steinberg said. "It would not be much different than any other team coming. I don't think (a Rams return) would carry enormous emotional residue, one way or the other. I'm just being honest."

    Trouble is, there isn't much "emotional residue" to get the NFL back in Los Angeles period. Steinberg refers to the "inherent lethargy" of Southern California. Los Angeles Times sportswriter Sam Farmer refers to "deal fatigue" after so many ill-fated attempts to build a stadium and land a team.

    Rams senior adviser John Shaw triggered the second round of NFL franchise relocation in the 1990s when as club president he orchestrated the move of the Rams to St. Louis. Shaw declined to be interviewed for this story. But his comments of Oct. 6, 1999, when the league awarded an expansion franchise to Houston (over Los Angeles) ring just as true today.

    Shaw and the late owner Frontiere were sharply criticized for failing to make the Rams franchise work in Los Angeles. But if LA was such a great NFL market, why did it lose out to Houston for an expansion team?

    "I think there's some sense of vindication," Shaw said on the day Houston became the NFL's 32nd team. "It was said today by a club owner that maybe the league incorrectly assessed the (LA) marketplace in terms of the enthusiasm and support for an NFL team."

    At that time, the league had conditionally awarded a franchise to Los Angeles but turned to Houston only after LA couldn't get its act together. As Steinberg sees it, that was the first of two occasions when the NFL attempted to hand LA a franchise "on a silver platter."

    Silver platter No. 2 took place in the final years of Paul Tagliabue's tenure as NFL commissioner. The Coliseum became the chosen venue, and the league seemed committed to moving an existing team there in a plan that would have rebuilt the stadium at a cost estimated at $600 million to $1 billion.

    But there were just too many impediments. The University of Southern California football team is a longtime Coliseum tenant and had its own interests to protect. The Coliseum commission consists of the state, county and city government representatives, so there were layers of government to deal with.

    A variety of civic and political personalities with a variety of agendas came in and out of the picture. Could the stadium sell naming rights since it was a National Historic Landmark? There was even a desire to have a track around the playing surface in case LA got a future Olympics, which would have wreaked havoc with football sight lines.

    And there was still resistance among NFL owners about playing in an antiquated stadium, regardless of how much renovation took place.

    As Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell said in 2002: "Trying to put a new dress on an old hooker is not the way I want to go dancing."

    Finally, the league threw up its hands, informing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2007 that it no longer considered the Coliseum a viable NFL site.

    That leaves Roski, who was once involved in the Coliseum plans, as the only tin soldier left standing. Roski makes the Forbes 500 list of the world's wealthiest people. He's president of Industry-based Majestic Realty, part owner of the Lakers NBA team and the Kings NHL team, and co-owner of the Staples Center.

    In April 2008, he unveiled plans for a football stadium and entertainment complex on a 600-acre plot in Industry. But the Roski project has run into plenty of obstacles.

    For one, he would have to get out of the casino business to pass NFL muster; he owns the Silverton hotel and casino in Las Vegas. For another, he would have to restructure his financial package — paying cash and not just trading development rights — for a piece of any NFL franchise.

    And there's the "NIMBie" factor, which is strong in Southern California. That's NIMBie — as in Not in My Neighborhood. The neighboring community of Walnut, concerned over traffic, congestion and noise problems that an NFL team might bring in its backyard, has filed suit against Industry's stadium plan.

    The suit argues in part that the Industry proposal failed to reach out to Walnut's large Asian population, many of whom don't speak English, by informing them about the plan in their native tongues.

    In February, Roski business partner and spokesman John Semcken called the Walnut suit a bump in the road. By the end of March, he told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that the stadium project was on hold until the Walnut legal matter was resolved. Just two weeks ago, negotiations on a settlement broke off.

    Semcken did not return a phone message from the Post-Dispatch. But league sources said Friday that the Roski group has not approached the Rams about buying the team.


  2. #2
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    After reading this, it just shows to go ya that them there rumors can't be believed at face value. Now, if only Jim Thomas could put an end to the rumors that Vick can play football...

  3. #3
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    ...don't forget who put this article together. I would expect nothing less from him.

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    ...don't forget who put this article together. I would expect nothing less from him.

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    And I expect nothing short of negative rebuttal from those wanting the team to return to LA....
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    SJax, a developing quarterbacks best friend...

  5. #5
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    ...don't forget who put this article together. I would expect nothing less from him.

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Shots at national media? Oh yea.

    Shots at Bernie? Yea, he brings it on himself.

    Shots at Burwell? Ok, I guess some don't care for that whole "man of the people" schtick.

    but....

    Shots at Jim Thomas? LOL, good luck with that one.
    "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

  6. #6
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Can we please put this to bed?

    They are the Rams in St. Louis, as they were the Rams in L.A. They're still going to be my Rams wherever they go. If they go anywhere.

  7. #7
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Shots at national media? Oh yea.

    Shots at Bernie? Yea, he brings it on himself.

    Shots at Burwell? Ok, I guess some don't care for that whole "man of the people" schtick.

    but....

    Shots at Jim Thomas? LOL, good luck with that one.
    My point was, the guy writes for the St Louis Post Dispatch, what spin would you expect from him? For every story written about the Rams possible move from a writer in Stl, there will be one saying the opposite in LA. It's like expecting accurate, unbiased reporting from CNN... You have to take it for what it's worth. ...and for what it's worth, I personally don't believe the Rams will return to LA.

    As for putting this to bed, it is a shame that this keeps coming up, but when your team is up for sale and the consensus is that the current stadium is inadequate, it's bound to be a hot topic. And with the history of the Rams, well, you might as well get used to it until the present situation is settled. I don't think a single Rams fan wants to talk about another ownership change and possible move, but here we are, again.

    I think we all agree that as long as there's a team called the "Rams" in the NFL, we'll be fans, no matter where they call home.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    There were a lot of strong points to that article including the fact the city or surrounding cities could not get there act together to keep the Rams and eventually the Raiders as well. That pretty much allowed the Rams to leave to another city and the Raiders to return to their original town. Old Mr. "oh no I'm getting pulled over again" Steinberg is right, very difficult to get another football team. Add to that both respective owners had no real incomes besides their teams , and they were forced to go to greener pastures. One problem with that is neither teams owner has changed anything with their structures and they continue to seek out additional funds besides what they get from the league, merchandising and ticket sales. My guess is they will both look for additional luxury boxes to supplement their income for the future. The next step is to "force" their respective cities to cough up even more money to keep them there. It is exactly what they did to Oakland and Los Angeles. This pattern will continue unless of course the Rams get sold (and Mr. Burns, er Al Davis dies and the Raiders sell too.) to an owner who can afford the large salaries and doesn't need the team so much as a source of income. St Louis is getting played and we can only sit back and watch to see how it plays out...my advice though is not too get too caught up in the "my city is better than your city" fights since that only leads to division of fellow fans and that is never a good thing...

    GO LAKERS!!
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Bottom line, it would be pathetic for a team to return to a city that could not support them to begin with...And please spare me the financials because obviously LA could not or did not want the Rams so they ended up in St Louis...And imo that is where they should stay...Winning games is the only way to turn this topic around....There was never, ever talk of the Rams relocating when they were in the midst of their sellout streak....And i realize that i am "Captain Obvious" but no matter how bad of a product the Rams put on the field, the only way to keep them in Stl and silence this talk is to fill the dome each and every week! And all teams go through ups and downs, so once again spare me with the argument of "the rams don't put a quality team on the field, so i'm not going!"
    Once again as obvious as it sounds, we should just fill up the dome every week and we would no longer be on this subject every off season....End Rant!

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    I agree with Bar - bq, the Rams will be the Rams no matter were they play. I will still be hugh fan no matter where they play.

  11. #11
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Not that he thinks it would happen, but if it did, Steinberg doesn't think there would be anything resembling torchlight parades or civic glee for the return of the Rams. In 2016, 22 years will have passed since the Rams played their last game in Southern California.

    When you combine normal generational changes with continuing Latin immigration, Steinberg estimates that two-thirds of the Los Angeles County population will not remember, or have any kind of attachment, to the old LA Rams.

    "So it would not be a homecoming for a majority of the people," Steinberg said. "It would not be much different than any other team coming. I don't think (a Rams return) would carry enormous emotional residue, one way or the other. I'm just being honest."

    Trouble is, there isn't much "emotional residue" to get the NFL back in Los Angeles period. Steinberg refers to the "inherent lethargy" of Southern California.
    This makes me feel bad for our SoCal folks here. You guys made the emotional trek Eastwards with the Rams, but then have to still be lumped in with those bumps-on-logs that didn't. I wish someone would right a story about you guys. Fans that refuse to leave the team though the team (geographically, at least) left them. Is there any higher defining characteristic of a fan?
    "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

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce=GOAT View Post
    Bottom line, it would be pathetic for a team to return to a city that could not support them to begin with...And please spare me the financials because obviously LA could not or did not want the Rams so they ended up in St Louis...And imo that is where they should stay...Winning games is the only way to turn this topic around....There was never, ever talk of the Rams relocating when they were in the midst of their sellout streak....And i realize that i am "Captain Obvious" but no matter how bad of a product the Rams put on the field, the only way to keep them in Stl and silence this talk is to fill the dome each and every week! And all teams go through ups and downs, so once again spare me with the argument of "the rams don't put a quality team on the field, so i'm not going!"
    Once again as obvious as it sounds, we should just fill up the dome every week and we would no longer be on this subject every off season....End Rant!
    Yes, more St. Louis hate. If the Rams were so poorly supported, then why were they in LA for fifty years? GYFS.

  13. #13
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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by VenturaFwy View Post
    Yes, more St. Louis hate. If the Rams were so poorly supported, then why were they in LA for fifty years? GYFS.
    Because through most of those years, they were very well supported. Before the era of national TV contracts, the Rams filled the Collesium. Then CR died and things changed in the 80's. Attendance fell off, and the rest is history.

    For 39 of the 49 years, the fans did well. It was those last 10 or so seasons that lost the team.

    So far, St. Louis attendance has yet to fall to those 80's-'94 numbers, but hopefully the decline turns around before it gets to that point. Otherwise, the Rams may have a 4th home.
    "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

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post

    For 39 of the 49 years, the fans did well. It was those last 10 or so seasons that lost the team.
    And those 10 years can be directly attributed to the owner that took over after CR's death. Believe me this town tried to support the team as much as possible, but we were constantly let down by a clueless owner. Only to be told to "eat cake!". Others (not you Hub) can slam the LA fans all they want, we're used to it, but to say that we did not "support" the team is simple a defense mechanism in relation to your anger about the teams impending issues with support and location. That reaction is misdirected and undermines what I think your mission is and that is to find support from your local business people that may want to help you retain the team.

    I said this in the beginning and I will always say this, good luck in keeping the team in St. Louis. As a fan I would never wish that another city lose their team nor would I blame the previous city for the move. Ultimately it is a business decision that rests in the hands of the owner and for which the everyday fan has little control.
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

    Jack Youngblood

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    Re: LA move is unlikely for Rams

    When I sit back and really think about the second largest market not having an NFL franchise for 14 years it is really hard to comprehend.

    We can put men on the moon but..........

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