Rams hear from L. A. task force

August 25, 1994|By T. J. Simers | T. J. Simers,Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Owner Georgia Frontiere said yesterday she remains open to keeping her Los Angeles Rams in Anaheim but believes it no longer possible, especially if Orange County fails to build her a new stadium.

"It does come down to staying in business; I wouldn't dream of leaving if I could stay in business," Frontiere said on the day the "Save the Rams" task force made a formal pitch to team management.

"There is always hope, but unless something drastically changes I don't see how we can. You know when the bankers start saying this is it, you have to start listening to them."

Area officials and businessmen were given their hearing yesterday. In a two-hour meeting at the team's Los Angeles offices, Rams president John Shaw received a proposal from local representatives, including a remodeled Anaheim Stadium and a new practice facility.

Although the plan falls short of offering the new stadium the team covets, task force members nonetheless expressed optimism.

"I was happy not to get tossed out of the office," Orange County Supervisor William G. Steiner said.

Added Newport Beach sports agent Leigh Steinberg, the group's co-chairman: "I thought it was a productive meeting. They appeared interested and intrigued by some of the elements of the proposal. . . . They said they needed time to analyze it and they would get back to us in a couple weeks."

Shaw remained non-committal in assessing how the offer stacked up against lucrative proposals from cities such as Baltimore and St. Louis.

"We had a preliminary negotiating meeting during which the 'Save the Rams' organization made a financial proposal for keeping the Rams in Anaheim," Shaw said in a one-paragraph statement. "We are reviewing their proposal and anticipate other meetings with the 'Save the Rams' organization."

The Rams, who have suffered more than a 35 percent drop in season-ticket sales while substantially boosting their payroll with free-agent acquisitions, have projected a $6 million loss this season. Frontiere earlier empowered Shaw to explore the possibility of moving the team in time to play elsewhere next year.

She reacted cautiously to "Save the Rams' " efforts to prevent that from happening.

"I don't know how real any of these things are, but certainly they have the right intentions," said Frontiere, who did not attend yesterday's meeting. "I think as long as negotiations are open, again, where there's light, there's hope. I mean we're exploring all the options.

"The fact is we have a wonderful country that allows us to go where we can make a living."

But Frontiere said any proposal that is intended to keep the team here will probably have to include a new stadium. And she said she might be willing to accept a minority partner to get one built.

St. Louis continues to be plagued by an internal dispute regarding its stadium lease. In Baltimore, Peter Angelos, managing partner of the Baltimore Orioles, expressed an interest in buying a minority interest in the Rams. But those negotiations broke off when Angelos insisted upon majority ownership at some point in time.

Frontiere insists she will not part with the team she has run since her husband, Carroll Rosenbloom, drowned in 1979.

"That's the trouble," Frontiere said. "From Day One when Carroll died, people have been trying to buy my team. I'm not going to sell a majority interest in the team, no, no, a thousand times, no."

But she said she will consider selling a minority interest to facilitate a move to another city.

"I would want a partner that I could get along with and work with," she said. "Right now, I really don't have any idea where we're going."

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