Rosenbloom says team is staying in St. Louis

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — One of the new owners of the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday denied speculation the team will be sold and moved back to southern California.

Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that the Rams are on the market and being shopped for up to $900 million, with a sale raising the possibility of a return to Los Angeles. The story quoted former 49ers owner Eddie Bartolo and cited other unnamed sources.

Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams from Anaheim, Calif., to her hometown of St. Louis in 1995. Frontiere died in January of breast cancer. The team is now owned by her children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

In a written statement, Rosenbloom stopped short of saying definitively that the team would not be sold, but reiterated that there are no plans to relocate.

"When a team is passed from one generation to another it becomes to some a calling card that the team must be for sale," Rosenbloom said. "So to reply to this [Yahoo] article: Nothing has changed since my mom's passing."

Rosenbloom said the owners have been approached "by several people," but did not elaborate.

He said that while he and his sister deal with their mother's estate, "I can assure you we have every intention of keeping the Rams in St. Louis and will have no further comment on this article."

Calls to a Rams spokesman were unanswered.

It wouldn't appear likely the Rams could be moved anytime soon, even if they were sold. The lease agreement with the Edward Jones Dome requires that the team remain in St. Louis at least through the 2015 season, assuming upgrades of the dome have been met, said Brian McMurtry, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.

McMurtry said $30 million is currently being spent on improvements expected to be completed by July 2009, including a new scoreboard.

Starting in 2012, the operators of the dome and the Rams can begin negotiations on what needs to be done at the dome to keep the team there after 2015. If no agreement is reached, the Rams' future here becomes "year to year" until a new agreement is reached, McMurtry said.

The Rams' poor on-field performance in recent years has led to eroding attendance. After selling out every home game from their arrival in St. Louis until late in the 2006 season, empty seats became commonplace in 2007, when the Rams finished 3-13, their worst record since relocating.

Rosenbloom and Rodriguez both live in Los Angeles, but have repeatedly said the team will not move.

"We don't have any interest in moving to Los Angeles, is that clear enough?" Rosenbloom said at an introductory news conference in April.

Rosenbloom, the controlling managing partner, and Rodriguez own 60 percent of the franchise, with Stan Kroenke owning the other 40 percent.

Frontiere took over the franchise in 1979 following the drowning death of her husband, Carroll Rosenbloom.

The Yahoo story quoted DeBartolo as having "slight" interest in purchasing the Rams.

Of a return to Los Angeles, DeBartolo told Yahoo, "It would be something to look at. ... But it wouldn't be my first choice of a franchise if I chose to get back in."

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