Rich return would await Rams' Frontiere here Stadium terms easily surpass Anaheim's

November 02, 1993|By Bill Plaschke | Bill Plaschke,Los Angeles Times The Orange County (Calif.) Register contributed to this article.

LOS ANGELES -- While the Maryland Stadium Authority continued to emphasize that its priority is expansion, officials there confirmed yesterday that they have negotiated with existing franchises in the past, and would make a lucrative offer to others considering relocation.

Sources say the Los Angeles Rams will be one of those teams.

Although prospective Baltimore owner Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass publicly broached the idea of buying the Rams Sunday, sources say the Rams would likely move without being purchased.

If Rams owner Georgia Frontiere is looking for a good stadium and training facility deal, the Maryland Stadium Authority would be happy to cast her as a returning hero.

She was married to the late Carroll Rosenbloom before he traded the Colts to Robert Irsay in 1972 for ownership of the Rams. Under Rosenbloom's direction, the Colts won their only Super Bowl championship after the 1970 season.

If Frontiere brings a team back, she would be given:

* Use of a $165 million stadium in the Camden Yards area of downtown Baltimore, adjacent to Oriole Park. Construction will begin immediately after the city receives a team. The rent would be $1 per game.

The Rams currently pay the city of Anaheim a rental fee of 60 cents per admission, not to exceed $400,0000 a year.

* All ticket revenues, including those from luxury boxes and club seats.

The Rams currently give up 7 1/2 percent of ticket revenue and 20 percent of their luxury box revenue to the city.

Baltimore's luxury box policy would be of particular interest to the Rams because those revenues, often representing several million dollars a year, are the only admission monies not shared with the visiting team by NFL law.

* All parking and concession revenues.

The Rams receive barely more than half of parking revenues from the city under a sliding scale, and half of concessions.

* The old Colts practice facility with $4.5 million in renovations.

The Rams have never been totally satisfied with Rams Park in Anaheim, according to a city source.

Why is Baltimore willing to give up so much?

Partially because, after witnessing the recent success of the Orioles, the state has realized the impact of a professional sports team on the revitalized downtown area. And also because of memories of the original Colts team, which moved to Indianapolis after the 1983 season.

"We had a team, we lost a team, we know more than anybody what it feels like not to have one," said Herb Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

If Baltimore is not awarded the second expansion franchise later this month -- St. Louis is favored because of its market size and locale -- expect the city to chase an existing team with renewed fervor.

According to Belgrad, his group will not approach a team unless "the owner is irrevocable in his decision to relocate a franchise. In other words, we don't want to be a wedge for anybody who wants to negotiate a new lease."

The only public sign of the Rams' unhappiness with their current arrangement can be found in litigation by the California Angels against the city of Anaheim over plans by the Rams and the city in 1983 to build four office buildings on part of the stadium parking lot.

"We had a very good relationship with the city of Anaheim," said John Shaw, Rams vice president. "There is no unhappiness with the city."

Greg Smith, director of operations at Anaheim Stadium, said that if the Rams were to relocate, they would have to pay the city of Anaheim $30 million to get out of their Anaheim Stadium lease.

That is the amount the team owes for paying off city bonds, stadium expansion and the balance due on the scoreboard, Smith said.

"This is coming out of the blue," Smith said. "This is the first time we have ever heard anything of this nature and until I hear it from someone in the Rams organization, I have to consider it a rumor."

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