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Q & A : Rams' Shaw on Why Team Is Putting City on Notice

May 01, 1994|T. J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On Tuesday, Rams management will formally notify the city of Anaheim that the team is giving 15 months' notice of its intention to terminate its Anaheim Stadium lease. While the action can be rescinded, its intent is to give the National Football League franchise the option of exploring opportunities in other cities hungry for pro football, such as Baltimore, St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn.

Executive Vice President John Shaw has been the Rams' point man in the effort to make the best deal possible for Georgia Frontiere, the team's owner and president. On Thursday night, he talked with Times staff writer T. J. Simers about the significance of Tuesday and what might lie ahead.

Q. What do you make of this action on May 3?

A. I see it as a legal maneuver that grants to the football team an additional option to improve its economic condition, whether it be in Anaheim, the Southern California area or another city. It doesn't mean we're going to leave Anaheim. The notice that we're going to be serving to the city can be revoked any time in the next 15 months and, in a way, it's really creating for us the opportunity to be a free agent, to use a football term.

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Q. When do you expect this whole thing being resolved?

A. I have no timetable. We're not going to do anything quickly. We're just going to explore. We gave the city of Anaheim a four-month period of exclusivity (from the Jan. 6 announcement of the intent to invoke the escape clause).

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Q. Did the city do anything with that period of time?

A. No.

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Q. Did you expect the city to do anything with that time?

A. I wasn't sure.

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Q. Do you understand the frustration of some city officials who contend the Rams have done nothing to indicate just what they want? That you aren't being specific?

A. I think the city was very creative when it had to move the team from the Los Angeles Coliseum (for the 1980 season). It's my understanding they were very creative when they moved the team to the city of Anaheim. I feel, given the same type of situation, they could be creative enough to keep the team right now. So I really don't understand the frustrations. . . .

I think the city knows the type of proposals we are receiving from other cities. And I think several members of the City Council have made it clear they have no interest in having the taxpayers subsidize a football team. We're sensitive to that point of view. If that is the view of the city, we respect it and appreciate it. I'm not sure, with that view, they could compete with some of the other cities that are using state and local money to deliver to a potential football tenant a brand-new football facility, a state-of-the-art, single-purpose facility.

In 1990, when we negotiated the buyout clause, the city at that time told us it didn't have any money to address some of the issues that we felt at that time were important. They found a way to purchase a couple of acres of land and build a new facility (The Pond of Anaheim) for two tenants, two potential tenants that weren't even identified at the time, in basketball and hockey. Also at the time, when we negotiated the escape clause, the city view was $30 million would be a prohibitive price for a club (to pay) to move out of the city. I think the present view would be that it wouldn't be prohibitive. I think it is also the city's view, and they have told us this on a number of occasions, that they will be able to attract other tenants. And so if that's the attitude that they're going to have, they might be successful in bringing another NFL team to Southern California. I think it would be difficult for that to happen.

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Q. Is there a leading candidate in the race to get the Rams?

A. No, there's been strong interest from several cities.

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Q. Do you believe the Rams will move?

A. It would be purely conjectural for me to answer that, and I don't think it's fair to do that. It's a decision that will be made by ownership.

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Q. Have you already made a recommendation to Georgia Frontiere on whether to move or not?

A. Absolutely not.

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Q. What about the team's lame-duck status and its impact on fans?

A. I think "lame duck" is an inaccurate term because we have not announced our intention to move. We have only announced our notice to terminate our lease.

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Q. Is there any leader, in your estimation, in Anaheim who can step forward and make this work to keep the Rams here?

A. I think the mayor of Anaheim (Tom Daly) has been very aggressive in trying to find some alternatives for us.

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Q. Do team officials believe the city will be able to put together a package that will keep the Rams in Anaheim?

A. We're hopeful that they can. If they're competitive with other cities, we would look at the package.

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Q. Do team officials think the city has neglected the Rams' demands on the stadium lease and practice facility?

A. We haven't made any demands on the stadium lease.

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Q. A better word might be concerns.

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