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  • Owner puts Firebirds up for sale

    Arena football team may move if local buyer can't be found

    By Jeff Rabjohns
    [email protected]
    July 30, 2004

    The Indiana Firebirds are for sale and may move to Florida if a local buyer cannot be found in the next 30 days, owner David Lageschulte said Thursday.

    Lageschulte is searching for local ownership for the Arena Football League franchise that moved to Indianapolis from Albany, N.Y., before the 2001 season.

    If that doesn't happen, Lageschulte, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla., said he would look to move the team, possibly as soon as next season.

    "I would like that to be an option," he said. "First, I'd love to try to sell it and keep it in Indiana. We have wonderful crowds and wonderful games in Indiana.

    "If I can't, I would try to move it. Florida would be a choice of mine, but that would have to come with league approval."

    Lageschulte declined to tell his asking price for the team or what he paid for it. The most recent team to join the Arena league, the Austin (Texas) Wranglers, paid a $16.2 million expansion fee before the 2004 season. The sale of the Georgia Force before the 2003 season was reported at $14 million.

    With an influx of NFL ownership and a television deal with NBC, Arena football has seen its franchise values soar.

    "It's probably a little early to tell what the market will bear," said David Morton of Sunrise Sports Group, who along with Milt Thompson of Grand Slam III has been contracted by Lageschulte to search for potential owners.

    "To compare a new franchise . . . is difficult because this is an existing, established brand."

    Morton said he and Thompson are in the early stages of making proposals to potential buyers.

    Lageschulte purchased the team in August 2002 from Glenn Mazula, who owned the team since its inception in 1990.

    Lageschulte was an investor in the franchise since 1997. From 1993-95, he also owned an Arena franchise known as the Miami Hooters.

    One of the originators of the Hooters restaurant chain, Lageschulte is co-CEO of a company that runs 30 restaurants and bars. He also is part owner of a company involved in fitness centers, heavy equipment and environmental remediation.

    Lageschulte purchased control of the Firebirds with the intent that he would eventually sell the team.

    "We have some pretty stiff deadlines at this point. I love Indianapolis and the Indianapolis market," Lageschulte said. "Unfortunately, I live in Florida and that's the reason I wanted to sell the team or have someone take it over.

    "We have to find something in the next 30 days that at least smells like a deal."

    Playing in Conseco Fieldhouse, the Firebirds averaged 10,874 in attendance in 2004, 11th out of 19 teams. They went 8-8 and missed the eight-team playoffs. The 16-game Arena league season begins the week after the Super Bowl and ends with the ArenaBowl in June. Arena football drew a record 1.9 million fans this past season, a 21 percent jump from 2003.

    The relocation of an Arena franchise must be approved by the league's board of directors, and no team can move into a market area in which the league already has a presence. The Arena league has teams in Orlando and Tampa Bay.

    Arena spokesman Tom Goodhines said the league would like to see the Firebirds remain in Indianapolis.

    "The Indianapolis market is fabulous, and Conseco Fieldhouse is one of the best, if not the best, venues in the league," Goodhines said.

    Call Star reporter Jeff Rabjohns at (317) 444-6183.

Related Topics


  • Torry Holt
    Rams up for sale (RUMOR)
    by Torry Holt
    I just found this article :

    Sources: Rams up for sale
    By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports
    May 20, 2008

    Michael Silver
    Yahoo! Sports

    Though it hasn't been publicized in the wake of longtime owner Georgia Frontiere's death earlier this year, the St. Louis Rams are on the market, according to several NFL sources.

    The possible sale of the franchise could have major ramifications, with a potential return of the team to Southern California hanging over any transaction. Adding intrigue to the situation: One of the prospective buyers who has had preliminary discussions with an intermediary about buying the Rams is Eddie DeBartolo, who owned the rival San Francisco ***** from 1977 to '98.

    "I know that they are definitely in play," DeBartolo told Yahoo! Sports last week. "Georgia's kids (son Chip Rosenbloom and daughter Lucia Rodriguez) 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."

    Rams president John Shaw, who has been the de facto leader of the franchise since Frontiere moved the Rams from Anaheim to St. Louis in 1995, declined to comment on the team's potential sale.

    While DeBartolo said he has only a "slight" interest in purchasing the Rams, who sources say are being shopped in the $850 million to $900 million range, he conceded that part of the deal's allure would be the possibility of filling the void in the L.A. market that has existed since the Rams and Raiders left town before the '95 season.

    "Their lease (at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis) is up in 2012, and they would be a natural for that to happen," DeBartolo said of the Rams' return to L.A. under new ownership. "It would be something to look at, and it's interesting to see the numbers and everything. But it wouldn't be my first choice of a franchise if I chose to get back in."

    DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa, would prefer to purchase the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was part of a group that included Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan which approached Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer about buying the team seven years ago, but their interest was rebuffed.

    Two years ago, in a story I wrote for Sports Illustrated, DeBartolo said he was intrigued by the prospect of purchasing the Raiders and relocating them to L.A. At the time two prominent NFL owners, including the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones, said they believed DeBartolo would be approved should he attempt to return to the league – something that was in question after he became embroiled in a Louisiana gaming scandal a decade ago and ultimately pled guilty to a felony (not reporting an extortion attempt by the state's former governor, Edwin Edwards).

    "I love the guy, and a...
    -05-20-2008, 09:11 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Firebirds To Stop Operations, Continue Search For New Owner
    by DJRamFan
    League Could Control Team By Sept. 20

    POSTED: 8:56 pm EST September 8, 2004

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Firebirds, whose owner has been trying to sell the team, said Wednesday it will cease operations at the end of this week but continue to seek a new owner until Sept. 20, RTV6's Wil Hampton reported.

    If a new owner isn't found by Sept. 20, the Arena Football League -- to which the Firebirds belong -- will control the club. The AFL could then operate it in Indiana, move it, or shut it down, Hampton reported.

    Ticket orders for the 2005 season will be refunded, the team said.

    The Firebirds moved to Indianapolis from Albany, N.Y., before the 2001 season. In 2002, David Lageschulte bought the team from Glenn Mazula, who owned the franchise since its inception in 1990.

    In July, Lageschulte said he either wanted to sell the team or move it closer to his Florida home.

    Lageschulte, who lives in Fort Myers, Fla., and was a founder of the Hooters restaurant chain, also owned the AFL's former Miami team in the mid-1990s.

    The Firebirds averaged 10,874 fans at home games in Conseco Fieldhouse this year, ranking 11th out of 19 teams. They went 8-8 and missed the eight-team playoffs.
    Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    -09-09-2004, 10:25 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Arena League eyes Salt Lake for possible expansion
    by DJRamFan
    By Aaron Cole
    Deseret Morning News

    Among the bevy of current major-league franchise rumors in Salt Lake City, add one more: an Arena Football League team.
    An AFL spokesperson confirmed Monday that an ownership group from Salt Lake City has contacted the league about a possible expansion to the Salt Lake area.
    "We have received a preliminary inquiry from an ownership group in Salt Lake. We will be exploring Salt Lake as a possibility," AFL representative Chris McCloskey said. "Salt Lake is a good market for an AFL team and has a good track record with pro sports franchises, namely the Utah Jazz."
    While Salt Lake will have to meet several requirements before an expansion team is granted, it does not appear to be beyond reach.
    No indication has been given as to whether or not Salt Lake would be granted an AFL franchise or a developmental franchise in the AF2 league. The AF2 is the AFL's equivalent of baseball's minor leagues.
    If placed in the AFL, Salt Lake would be a smaller market, but not the smallest. Current teams exist in Grand Rapids and Austin, both smaller than Salt Lake in relative size. The AFL currently has teams in seven of the 10 major markets in the United States, with several expansion options such as Washington, D.C., and Houston.
    If placed in the smaller developmental AF2, Salt Lake would be bigger than most current teams, such as Bakersfield and Birmingham.
    The AFL's popularity and attendance have grown over the past several years, prompting recent expansion to cities such as Denver and New Orleans, and attracting owners such as John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi.
    Strong ownership is one of the stringent qualifications a potential franchise will have to meet before an AFL team is approved.
    Although representatives from the AFL league office have said that contact from an interested party from Salt Lake has been preliminary, several additional steps will be necessary in the expansion process.
    First, an informal inquiry needs to be made from a potential ownership group. Then the AFL will investigate its potential new market. Then, contingent on an approval from the AFL Expansion Committee and Executive Board, three-quarters of the Board of Directors must approve the bid.
    There are 19 teams in the AFL and 25 teams in the developmental AF2 league.
    -06-30-2004, 10:01 AM
  • larams1980
    Rams deal critical to the NFL
    by larams1980
    The success of the agreed upon deal to sell controlling interest of the St. Louis Rams to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan is going to be a leading indicator of the relative financial health of NFL franchises and a barometer of the future health of the league as a whole as it heads into a year of labor strife. The deal, which will not be formally presented to ownership until the owners’ meetings in late March, will clearly be the second biggest business issue, after the state of labor relations themselves.

    Khan, the 55-year-old president of Flex-N-Gate Corp., a manufacturing company that makes pickup truck gates, is offering a deal, according to informed sources, that puts the total value of the Rams at around $750 million. That’s less than the franchise’s Forbes valuation of $913 million but more than what other bidders have offered to date for the franchise. The Rams do not own their own stadium, but they have a favorable lease with St. Louis, are considered moveable and need to be sold to pay inheritance taxes.

    Death and taxes

    Khan needs only to acquire the 60 percent of the Rams that had been owned by the late Georgia Frontiere and is now held by her children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. The other 40-percent share is owned by Stan Kroenke, who is currently prohibited by NFL rules from taking control of the franchise because of his ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. Kroenke has been quiet on his intentions, but for the moment, he’s believed to be standing pat.

    Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez APChip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez currently own 60 percent of the Rams franchise.

    For their part, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez have been dealing with an inheritance-tax situation since the January 2008 death of their mother. Sources say the IRS valued the Rams at $800 million at that time. This would have presented Frontiere’s heirs with a potential taxable estate of nearly $400 million based on the increase in value of the Rams during Frontiere’s nearly 30 years’ ownership. Frontiere took control of the Rams after the death of her sixth husband, Carroll Rosenbloom, in 1979. In other words, the two Frontiere heirs have a tax bill of nearly $200 million.

    Very few people have the kind of wealth to absorb a $200-million tax hit and keep control of their football team, and Rosenbloom and Rodriguez aren’t among them. They reportedly pursued loans and sought other investors to maintain control and perhaps sell the team at a more advantageous moment. But with last year’s financial crisis and the downturn in the economy that followed, the Frontiere heirs have no real choice but to sell now rather than wait for a recovery that may be slow in coming. While Rosenbloom and/or Rodriguez will not get to keep the team, both will walk away very well off from its sale, pocketing about $100 million each.

    Lower franchise values bonus in labor talks,...
    -03-01-2010, 12:23 PM
  • Varg6
    Diversity, money are key issues with Khan's Rams bid
    by Varg6

    By Bernie...

    Now that Shahid Khan has signed off on a deal to purchase majority ownership of the Rams, it will be fascinating to watch how the NFL receives him.

    If approved by NFL owners, Khan would become the first minority owner in control of a franchise in league history.

    Khan, born in Pakistan, came to the U.S. in 1967 at age 16. He became a U.S. citizen, was educated at the University of Illinois, built a hugely successful auto-parts manufacturing company, raised a family and has lived in central Illinois for 40 years.

    But we're reminded that the NFL is a private club, with only 32 lead owners/members. That point was underlined in a story that appeared in Saturday's Post-Dispatch.

    This passage caught my attention: "As one observer familiar with the process emphasized, it's more than just a matter of money. Using the analogy of an exclusive tennis club, the observer said, 'Do you like him enough to invite him to join your club? And if so, can he afford to pay the dues?'''

    I think it's ridiculous that we're even having this discussion. But Khan's application certainly will be a matter of keen interest for those who want to see if the NFL is truly inclusive at the highest level.

    I believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a man of integrity. I would be absolutely shocked if Khan is treated less than fairly by the NFL or the owners. And if Khan's finances check out, he should be fine. (More on that later.) I would think the NFL would be proud to open the doors to its inner sanctum to Khan — an ambitious, self-made man who represents the American dream.

    After all, Goodell spoke out against popular radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh when Limbaugh briefly partnered with Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams.

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay also denounced Limbaugh; Irsay happens to be a member of the NFL Finance Committee, which will review Khan.

    After taking Limbaugh to task for making "divisive" comments, Goodell was challenged by a member of Congress during an appearance on Capitol Hill.

    Goodell responded, in part, with this: "The NFL is about bringing people together, it's about unity and that we do not — we do not move toward divisive actions. And, in fact, our teams, I think, have demonstrated that both on and off the field. Nothing brings a team and a community together better than the NFL."

    The NFL received a "B" — its best grade ever — in the 2009 Race and Gender Report Card issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). The NFL had five minority general managers and six minority head coaches in 2009. But in its report, TIDES also pointed out that "no person of color has ever held majority ownership of an NFL team." And according to TIDES, no minority...
    -02-14-2010, 01:18 PM