By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Jul. 15 2008
Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom confirmed Monday evening that the team has hired a
Baltimore firm that specializes in sports investments. But not, Rosenbloom
insisted, for the reason that was reported earlier in the day.
Rosenbloom said Moag & Co. is not seeking prospective buyers of the team, as
the weekly SportsBusiness Journal reported, citing unidentified sources.
Rosenbloom explained that Moag was employed to field the many inquiries that
had been swamping him and Rams president John Shaw.
"We finally said, 'You know what, this is not how we want to spend eight hours
a day. We need somebody to handle them,'" Rosenbloom said. "It would be totally
inaccurate to say (Moag) is searching for buyers. ...
"We did not authorize (Moag) to go out and say, 'Hey, the team's up for sale.'
simply returning these people's phone calls."
Since taking over the Rams after the death of his mother in January, Rosenbloom
has been steadfast in declaring his desire to keep the Rams in St. Louis. But
he never has dismissed the possibility of a sale, and he reiterated that stance
"It's the same as it's been," Rosenbloom said. "If the right person at the time
right time with the right price came, I suppose that you might sell your house,
right? So, I don't say never. ... If we get a phone call today from somebody
who says the right things, we would listen. And that's why Moag is there."
Said Shaw: "If (Rosenbloom) received an offer he couldn't refuse, he'd have to
Moag & Co. did not respond to a phone message or an e-mail Monday.
The Rams have at least one past tie to the firm: Marketing executive Max
Muhleman is a member of Moag's board of advisers. Muhleman introduced the
concept of personal seat licenses, or PSLs, to pay for stadium construction
when he was with the Charlotte Panthers. Later, he assisted the Rams in
developing a plan to use PSLs revenue to pay off their stadium lease in
Anaheim, Calif., and help with their relocation costs when the team moved here
Rosenbloom and his sister, Lucia Rodriguez, split the 60 percent ownership they
inherited when Rams owner Georia Frontiere died Jan. 18 at age 80 after a
lengthy battle with breast cancer. Stan Kroenke retained his 40 percent share
of the team. The NFL requires all teams to designate a managing partner, and
Rosenbloom is filling the role.
In an earlier statement, Rosenbloom noted that "when a team is passed from one
generation to another, it becomes a calling card that the team must be for
Questions about the Rams resurfaced at the NFL owners meeting in April, and
went further afterward when Yahoo Sports quoted former San Francisco *****
owner Eddie DeBartolo as saying, "Georgia's kids have decided to sell the team.
I've talked to some people who are brokering things, and they've told me about
the price and what the deal might entail."
Although Rosenbloom vehemently denied DeBartolo's assertion, the inquiries
accelerated in the aftermath. "John and I were getting calls constantly,"
Rosenbloom said. "We decided that if people are going to be approaching us,
we've got to handle them in some way. And that's what happened."
Rosenbloom and Rodriguez might be more inclined to sell if they are hit with a
hefty estate tax bill. In 1992, family members who inherited the Miami Dolphins
from Joe Robbie decided to unload the team to avoid paying the taxes.
"We don't know what we're going to be able to do, what we might owe in taxes,"
Rosenbloom said. "We don't know what the overall financial thing will be at the
end of dealing with my mom's estate taxes. I do know there are a number of
years we can hold onto the team without being concerned about it."
The most recent NFL team sold was the Minnesota Vikings, for $600 million in
May 2005. Forbes magazine recently valued the Rams franchise at $908 million.
The Rams also could be facing a thorny stadium issue that Frontiere's heirs
might want to avoid. The team's 30-year lease with the city stipulates that the
home venue must rank in the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums at the 10-year
anniversaries of the deal. If it doesn't, the lease would be broken and the
Rams could leave town.
The Edward Jones Dome is undergoing $30 million in renovations to satisfy the
2005 mandate. But by 2015, a new stadium probably will be needed to meet the
requirement. By then, at least 20 new stadiums throughout the league will have
been built since '95.
In any case, nothing is changing with the Rams' ownership now or in the near
future, Rosenbloom emphasized.
"I can tell you this: We're going to do everything we can to do the right
thing, whatever that is," he said. "That's the only thing we can do."