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St. Louis Rams' New Owner Offers Hope

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  • St. Louis Rams' New Owner Offers Hope

    St. Louis Rams' new owner offers hope

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    The pending sale of the Rams to Shahid Khan is cause for optimism. Khan represents the classic American success story. It's the kind of story that's made America so great. It's the kind of story that we traditionally root for, and point to, with pride.

    Born in Pakistan, Khan arrived in the U.S. in 1967. He was a teenager then, and St. Louis was Khan's landing spot, his first stop on American soil. Khan went on to earn an engineering degree at the University of Illinois. He married his college sweetheart. He built a successful career and a blissful personal life in America's heartland, living in the Champaign-Urbana, Ill., area for more than 40 years.

    And that bodes well for St. Louis and the Rams' future in our town. Khan has roots in this region. He didn't take his fortune and move to Malibu, Napa Valley, Aspen, the Hamptons or some other trendy spot. Khan remained in the Midwest. And that gives us a legitimate reason to believe he'll want to keep an NFL team in St. Louis.

    Khan is a football fan. He has a luxury suite at Illinois home games. Khan has helped Illinois football coach Ron Zook by giving Zook use of Khan's private jet for recruiting trips. He's been generous in his support of academic and athletic programs at Illinois. ShopSTL Marketplace

    America's Center & Dome / Annual Saint Louis Boat & Sport Show

    In an interview with Mike Owens of KSDK-TV and Marc Cox of KMOV-TV, Zook praised Khan as "a competitor and a winner. He's a very successful man. He's been very successful in everything he's done and there's no reason to think he won't be successful in the National Football League."

    As a bonus, Khan is a Rams fan. He's made that Sunday trip from Central Illinois to attend games at the Edward Jones Dome. Like you, Khan has watched the Rams at their best, and he has seen the Rams at their worst. And that's valuable. Khan figures to have a handle on what needs to be done to pull the Rams from the ditch.

    Provided that there are no glitches or unforeseen problems — and Khan still must gain clearance from NFL owners — he'll be in position to make a positive impact on the franchise.

    And I give lots of credit to Rams majority owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. From the beginning, Rosenbloom told me he would strive to sell the team to someone who wanted to keep the Rams in St. Louis. Someone who, at least from what we can tell, has a favorable view of the city.

    Khan fits that description. And his presence is timely; no wealthy individuals from the immediate St. Louis community stepped up to make a bid to become the majority owner, so Khan can save the day.

    OK, now that we've covered the pleasantries, let's switch gears.

    No one can predict the future, and no owner — including Khan — should be taken for granted. Even if he has the best intentions, we shouldn't assume anything. There are obvious issues and problems in the market.

    In many respects, Khan couldn't have picked a worse time to take over the Rams. The team was 1-15 last season and may not be much better in 2010. Fan support is eroding. There's also the looming labor war between the NFL owners and players and the threat of a lockout that could wipe out the 2011 season. And if that happens, good luck selling tickets in 2012, or whenever play resumes.

    And there's also the potentially contentious lease issue. The Rams most likely will be able to opt out of The Edward Jones Dome after the 2014 season. There is no conceivable way that the stadium will rank among the top 25 percent in the NFL by 2014, as stipulated by the lease agreement. So unless there's a compromise, the Rams would likely have the freedom to bolt after five more seasons.

    And there's no public money — or sentiment — to fund a new stadium. Somehow, Mr. Khan and civic leaders will have to forge a comfortable arrangement. A stopgap deal to keep Khan happy and keep the franchise in place beyond 2014.

    "I'm not sure that anything can be done to the Dome to make it one of the best stadiums in the league," said our town's Dan Dierfdorf, the CBS football analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer. "Which means that the only way the Rams are going to stay in St. Louis is if there's some cooperation and some give and take from both sides.

    "The community is probably going to have to step up and do more than maybe they would like, but the new owner of the Rams is also going to have to be willing to settle for less than what the lease actually says they're entitled to. And if you can get that meeting in the middle somewhere, if you can get that spirit of cooperation, that would be the best thing in the world."

    It won't be easy.

    The best thing that Khan can do is to connect with local power brokers in an effort to build a network of allies to help him solve the stadium issue. And the surest way for Khan to enhance the organization's revenue flow is to improve the team and create a demand for Rams football.

    Said Deirdorf: "I think this town wants to hear Mr. Khan say, 'I desperately want to win, and I will do whatever it takes to win.' And that means hiring the best football people and putting together an organization that's really devoted to the city and devoted to winning."

    That's sound advice. The Rams have an alluring opportunity for a fresh start under a promising new owner. That alone provides a reason for renewed hope.

  • #2
    Re: St. Louis Rams' New Owner Offers Hope

    Now that chip won't be in charge anymore, does that mean we can go back to the 'disco' gold pants?


    • #3
      Re: St. Louis Rams' New Owner Offers Hope

      A potential owner who is a life long rams fan himself, sweet!


      Related Topics


      • dhaab
        Rams Soon Will BE Put Up for Sale - No Preconditions
        by dhaab
        Not looking good.

        St. Louis Rams soon will be put up for sale
        By Bernie Miklasz
        Sunday, May. 31 2009
        Here's an early heads-up for any wealthy individuals, families or potential
        investor groups in the St. Louis area who dream of owning an NFL franchise:

        You're in luck.

        But you might want to act fast, because the Rams are likely to hit the open
        market in the near future, officially offered for sale by majority owners Chip
        Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

        After inheriting control of the Rams in early 2008 from their late mother,
        Georgia Frontiere, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez have concentrated on reorganizing
        the football operation. And they've had to deal with complex estate-tax issues
        in the aftermath of their mother's death.

        With substantial progress made in those areas, the timetable for a sale has
        moved up.

        Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told the Post-Dispatch on
        Saturday that Rosenbloom and Rodriguez have retained the services of Goldman
        Sachs, the prominent investment banking firm.

        The owners will ask Goldman Sachs to help facilitate the sale of the Rams by
        evaluating bids and soliciting potential buyers.

        The sale price is unknown, but Forbes magazine's most recent estimate listed
        the Rams' value at $929 million.

        And if you are a St. Louis Rams fan, here's the reason to be concerned: I'm
        told there will be no preconditions attached to the sale of the Rams. This
        means the Rams could be scooped up by out-of-town buyers.

        And that's a dramatic — and potentially ominous — development, given the Rams'
        shaky lease at the Edward Jones Dome.

        Until now, Rosenbloom, the franchise's managing partner, has said he was open
        to the idea of selling the Rams as long as the new owner agreed to keep the
        team in St. Louis, long-term. Rosenbloom hoped that his pledge would entice a
        buyer from the St. Louis community.

        According to a source familiar with Rosenbloom's thinking, Rosenbloom is
        discouraged by the apparent lack of local ownership interest. Rosenbloom, the
        source said, has been waiting for more than a year for a St. Louis-area bidder
        to step forward, to no avail.

        The source said Rosenbloom's strong preference is to sell to St. Louis
        representatives. But with nothing happening on the St. Louis front, Rosenbloom
        has reluctantly concluded that the only way to expedite a sale is to make the
        Rams available to any party, near or far. And that includes Los Angeles, the
        Rams' home until moving to St. Louis in 1995.

        When reached Saturday, Rosenbloom declined to comment on sale and stadium
        issues. "The...
        -05-30-2009, 09:44 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Khan Issues Statement About Buying The Rams
        by r8rh8rmike
        02.12.2010 12:33 pm
        Khan issues statement about buying the Rams
        By Mike Smith
        St. Louis Post-Dispatch

        When it comes to pro sports, nothing says “St. Louis” quite like having your words electronically processed by the Fleishman-Hillard folks.

        And in that regard, potential Rams buyer Shahid Khan already qualifies as a St. Louisan. His only public comments about purchasing the team were transmitted today by the communications and marketing firm:

        “I recently signed an agreement with respect to the purchase of the St. Louis Rams. The proposed transaction is subject to approval by the National Football League and its owners. To that end, I am excited to begin the approval process and will, in accordance with league policy, proceed on a confidential basis and refrain from public comment.

        “As a long time Rams fan and supporter of the City of St. Louis, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be considered by the NFL and am extremely grateful for the trust placed in me by Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.”
        -02-12-2010, 04:11 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        St. Louis Rams Owners Weighing 3 Offers
        by r8rh8rmike
        St. Louis Rams owners weighing 3 offers

        By Jim Thomas

        St. Louis Rams owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are closing in on a decision to accept one of three offers to purchase the team or walk away from the bidders and keep the franchise, league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.

        A decision could be reached before the NFL draft in late April, not because of any kind of firm deadline, but simply to avoid uncertainty surrounding the team and its future entering the 2010 season.

        All three offers, described as "acceptable" by the sources, are comparable to what the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise recently sold for — which was in the range of total franchise value of $720 million to $800 million.

        The only known bid for the team is from a group of investors headed by St. Louis Blues hockey chairman Dave Checketts. The identity of the other two bidders remains unknown, although one was a relative late-comer in the process.

        The three bidders are committed in varying degrees to keeping the franchise in St. Louis, and that may have an impact on any sale decision.

        Rosenbloom and Rodriguez own 60 percent of the franchise, which they inherited from their late mother, Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere died on Jan. 18, 2008 — two years ago Monday — after a long battle with breast cancer. It is that 60 percent of the team that is for sale.

        Stan Kroenke owns the other 40 percent of the team.

        But at least one of the bids is for the full 100 percent of the team, in which case Kroenke's share would be bought out as well. But if Rosenbloom and Rodriguez end up selling only their 60 percent of the team, Kroenke could potentially scuttle the deal by saying he wants to "cash out," or sell his share of the team as well. If that's the case, the 60 percent investor may not have enough money to buy the full franchise.

        Those close to Rosenbloom say he has yet to get any indication from Kroenke on what he will do, although there have been signals from the Kroenke camp that he will simply hold his 40 percent share of the team if Rosenbloom and Rodriguez sell their 60 percent.

        Kroenke also has matching rights on any outside offers for the team. But under current NFL cross-ownership rules, he would not be allowed to exercise that right as long as he owns majority shares of the Denver Nuggets NBA team and the Colorado Avalanche NHL franchise. Kroenke also owns 29.9 percent of the English soccer club Arsenal, a team valued at $1.2 billion.

        Some clarity could be added to the issue this week. The Rams' brain trust is meeting in Los Angeles today and Thursday for the team's annual end-of-season summit meeting. Kroenke is expected to attend at least one day's worth of the meetings. If Kroenke indicates that he's on board with any...
        -01-19-2010, 09:48 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Bernie: More On Rams Sale & Shahid Kahn
        by r8rh8rmike
        02.11.2010 11:01 am
        More on Rams Sale & Shahid Khan
        By Bernie Miklasz

        Good morning …

        In no particular order:

        * What are Stan Kroenke’s options? The Rams’ 40 percent owner has three choices. (1) keep his 40 percent and work with Shahid Khan if Khan is approved as the 60 percent owner. (2) sell his 40 percent to Khan. (3) exercise his right of first refusal, try to buy all 100 percent and then take on the NFL to persuade the league to change its rules covering cross ownership. Unless the NFL changes the rules, Kroenke can’t be the 100 percent owner.

        * Perhaps Kroenke will have a fourth option; there are rumors of the NFL Denver Broncos being for sale.

        * Why did Khan gain the advantage over Dave Checketts in the competition for the Rams? Two reasons: (1) The Checketts’ group was financially prepared to buy 60 percent of the team — the piece owned by Chip Rosenbloom and his sister Lucia Rodriguez. If Kroenke wants to opt out of his 40 percent, the Checketts’ group wasn’t in position to buy Kroenke’s 40-share as well. Khan, on the other hand, has the resources to buy all 100 percent if need be. (2) Khan’s bid is a stand-alone deal; he is, for now, by himself on this. (It’s always possible to add partners later). But the NFL likes clean deals. The NFL prefers a one-owner structure. Checketts had cobbled together a network of investors; the ownership pie was being divided among many people.

        * What’s next for Khan? A purchase agreement has been signed. It will take several weeks, perhaps 6 to 8 weeks, for the Rams’ owners and Khan to formally close on the deal, which is a normal procedure. During this waiting time, Khan will likely be vetted by the NFL Finance Committee. Every aspect of his finances and personal background will be inspected by the league, which, again, is standard procedure. If Khan gains clearance from the committee, then the NFL owners will vote on the sale. Khan will need 75 percent of the 32 owners to support him.

        * What about Khan’s dispute with the Internal Revenue Service? Will that be an issue? Obviously, this will draw scrutiny from the NFL’s finance committee. And here is a link to the latest news story on the Kahn/IRS dispute. A couple of things on this: a dispute with the IRS is hardly unusual. This isn’t a criminal complaint; it’s a disagreement on the validity of tax shelters and Khan and his wife paid the IRS the requested amount, $68 million. And now the Khans are challenging the IRS to get the money back. Also, Goldman-Sachs, which handled the sale for Rosenbloom-Rodriguez, thoroughly vetted Khan on this and other financial issues. Goldman-Sachs wouldn’t have forwarded Khan’s bid to the Rams unless the broker had reasonable confidence in Khan’s status and Khan’s prospects for being approved by the NFL. But obviously, questions will be asked.

        * What about Chip Rosenbloom and...
        -02-11-2010, 08:35 PM
      • MauiRam
        Intrigue behind Rams sale
        by MauiRam
        Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

        Let's get down to business. It's time to update the attempted sale of the St. Louis Rams. The process has been secretive for the most part. Obviously, there's a lot that I don't know.

        But after making several rounds of phone calls this week and talking to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, I'll share what I know.

        And I'll also discuss the ongoing effort of Blues chairman Dave Checketts, who is attempting to put together a consortium to purchase the 60 percent of the Rams owned by Chip Rosenbloom and his sister, Lucia Rodriguez.

        Checketts is carrying the football on behalf of St. Louis. That's a positive, but there is a downside, and later in the column I'll explain why.

        Let's get started:

        — No sale is imminent.

        — Several out-of-town interests are pursuing the franchise. And indications are that the potential buyers have communicated a desire to keep the Rams in St. Louis. For example, one potential buyer lives out of state but has business interests here and is thought to be pro-St. Louis.

        That said, no one in St. Louis should take anything for granted. Buyers know that Rosenbloom and Rodriguez want the Rams to remain here. And if a buyer has other motives, it makes no sense to telegraph those intentions to Rosenbloom. Or to the Goldman Sachs investment firm, which is handling sale inquiries.

        — Last Sunday on the CBS pregame show, Charley Casserly identified a new potential buyer: Texas-based banking billionaire Gerald J. Ford. It's true. It's also early. Ford, 65, is a promising candidate. But he hasn't been vetted yet.

        — Casserly also suggested that Rosenbloom and Rodriguez are under pressure to sell before the end of the year, because of estate-tax issues related to the death of their mother, Georgia Frontiere. A source with intimate knowledge of the Rosenbloom-Rodriguez tax issues disputes that.
        Between now and October 2013, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez are obligated to pay interest on the estate-tax bill. They are not required to begin making payments on the principal until Oct. 2013. At that point, the pressure to sell the team would increase, but the source stressed it would still be possible for Rosenbloom and Rodriguez to keep the Rams. An expected increase in the capital-gains tax (in 2010 or 2011) doesn't help Rosenbloom and Rodriguez, but the source insists that isn't an important factor in the sale timetable.

        — Stan Kroenke, who owns 40 percent of the Rams, has remained silent. To buy the available 60 percent, Kroenke would have to convince the NFL to change the rules prohibiting cross ownership. (He owns the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche.) Kroenke is a key to this. Because if he agrees to stay on as the 40 percent partner, the new owner would...
        -11-15-2009, 09:06 AM