Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Can St. Louis Come Together, Pursue Rams?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Can St. Louis Come Together, Pursue Rams?

Article excerpt

The most frustrating thing about the St. Louis football mess is that we can't get our hands on it. So we can't fix it.

In St. Louis, there are so many sparks shooting off in so many directions, it's difficult to get a firm handle on the problem.

And that's sad because St. Louis risks losing another chance for a National Football League team. How many times must we go through this exercise before the main players finally put aside their individual interests and unite for a common cause?

St. Louis continues to be a national (football league) joke. Let's stop the insanity.

The Los Angeles Rams, by all accounts, probably will transfer from their base in Orange County. That's not definite. Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss says he's willing to buy part of the Rams to keep them in LA.

St. Louis and Baltimore are considered the top candidates to entice the Rams. The franchise is also being courted by Hartford, San Antonio and Memphis. Orlando may jump in.

Baltimore, which sent a delegation to meet with Rams officials late last week, has more unity and focus than St. Louis.

But Baltimore is seriously flawed because the Washington Redskins are 35 miles down the road. Moreover, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke wants to build a new stadium 15 miles from Baltimore. Cooke apparently considers Baltimore his territory.

Wrote Baltimore Sun football columnist Vito Stellino: "Behind the scenes, the league will probably try to convince Rams owner Georgia Frontiere not to move to Baltimore. `We like the idea of the Redskins being a regional team,' one league official said recently."

Frontiere has always been a compliant owner who goes along with the NFL's executive branch on important issues. If Cooke sends her signals that he doesn't want the Rams in his neighborhood, Frontiere isn't the type to put up a fight.

Accordingly, St. Louis has the edge in so many areas, this should be a snap decision. St. Louis has attractive geography, market size, demographics and a 70,000-seat stadium that's loaded with money-making amenities. This palace will be completed in time for the 1995 season - just in time to accommodate the Rams' charge out of Southern California.

Yes, but those same factors were in play during the expansion race, and St. Louis blew a substantial lead to finish out of the money. We had a tremendous package to offer, but it remains damaged goods because of a few people who continue to trample it.

James Orthwein controls 65 percent of the stadium lease. Jerry Clinton has a 30 percent share of the stadium. The mysterious Fran Murray still expects something for his efforts, good and bad, during the expansion hunt.

Orthwein is the only person, so far, to emerge better off. Orthwein used the St. Louis stadium as leverage to inflate the sale price of his New England Patriots and turned a $50 million profit. …

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