Busch Stadium Alternative Could Help Lure Rams Here

By Jim Thomas This column contains information from wire services and other sportswriters from around the country. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 17, 1994 | Go to article overview

Busch Stadium Alternative Could Help Lure Rams Here


Jim Thomas This column contains information from wire services and other sportswriters from around the country., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


If Jerry Clinton and James Busch Orthwein remain unwilling to pull the trigger on the latest stadium lease proposal, there could be a Busch Stadium alternative to lure the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis.

Whether it's to the Rams' liking remains to be seen.

Here's how it could work:

Clinton and Orthwein lose control of the domed stadium lease two years after the building is up and running. The dome is scheduled to be completed in 1995, meaning an NFL tenant could play there in 1997 free of any threat of lawsuit or legal complications surrounding the lease.

If they decide to move anywhere, the Rams wouldn't move until 1995.

So why not play in Busch for the '95 and '96 seasons while waiting for Clinton's and Orthwein's stranglehold on the lease to expire?

Civic Progress could provide some lease "sweeteners" for the two years the Rams would play at Busch. Civic Progress President Andrew Newman of Edison Brothers Stores Inc. says the group remains open-minded.

"We've consistently been willing to consider a whole variety of alternatives to help any efforts to bring a team to town," Newman said.

Such was the case before the National Football League selected Jacksonville over St. Louis, Baltimore and Memphis for the second expansion franchise Nov. 30.

With control of the domed stadium lease an issue at that time, Civic Progress offered to make up the difference in the visiting team's share of the gate between Busch - which seats about 53,000 for football - and the 70,000-seat domed stadium.

The NFL turned thumbs down to that idea. The thought of playing in Busch for two years while a state of the art indoor stadium sat unused struck the 28 team owners as slightly bizarre. But this time, the only person Civic Progress has to satisfy is John Shaw, the Rams' executive vice president.

Even if Shaw announced he was going to Baltimore on May 3, the day the Rams' plan to file a lease termination notice at Anaheim Stadium, Baltimore's planned stadium wouldn't be ready by 1995. And the longer Shaw waits to decide after May 3, the more likely it becomes that Baltimore's stadium wouldn't be ready in '96 either.

Why? Because unlike the St. Louis stadium, which has been under construction for the better part of two years, Baltimore won't begin building its stadium until it lands an NFL team.

So what's the difference between playing in Memorial Stadium, former home of the Colts, until 1997 or Busch? Busch is in a lot better shape. …

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