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St. Louis' Offer to Rams Among Richest in Football : Relocation: Package 'will far exceed' local opportunity and could mean profit of $20 million a year, says team president Shaw. It likely will be presented to owner today.

January 14, 1995|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — A staggering St. Louis offer to the Rams--including a $30-million payoff to Anaheim, coverage of the team's 1994 losses and the potential for more than $20 million in annual profits--is expected to be presented to owner Georgia Frontiere today for her signature.

Included in the agreement is an unprecedented guarantee that at least 85% of luxury boxes and club seats will be sold for the next 15 years, accounting for at least $10 million annually for the team.

"I think it's as good an economic deal as there is in football today," said John Shaw, Rams president. "It's a deal, as far as the economics are concerned, that will far exceed the Anaheim or Southern California opportunity."

If Frontiere follows Shaw's recommendation to accept the offer, she will also sell 30% of the Rams to Missouri businessman Stan Kroenke for approximately $60 million.

The Rams' move, which will be announced Tuesday in St. Louis if all paperwork is completed, will be conditional on:

* National Football League approval.

* St. Louis' sale of about 45,000 personal seat licenses, which will range from $250 to $4,500.

* The 100% sale of club seat and sideline luxury boxes for the next three years.

Shaw said the Rams will have the option to void the deal if St. Louis fails to meet conditions by the end of April.

"I feel all substantial points have some resolution, but until language is worked out, we have no deal," Shaw said. "My anticipation is, if documents are completed by (today), we would go to St. Louis Sunday, review the situation and announce the move as early as Tuesday. If papers are not completed, then we won't be going Sunday."

After months of negotiations, Shaw reached an understanding with FANS, Inc.--the organization working to lure an NFL team to St. Louis--when it agreed to guarantee the sale of 85% of all club seats and luxury boxes for 15 years. The pledge is expected to be backed by Civic Progress, a coalition of St. Louis' 28 largest businesses.

"That got us over the hump," Shaw said.

The Rams will sign a 30-year lease and receive all revenue from concessions, while paying rent of $250,000 a year for the 70,000-seat domed stadium, which will be completed in late October.

The Rams will open the 1995 season in Busch Stadium and will have to seek a temporary quarters while awaiting the construction of a $12-million to $15-million practice facility. Shaw said the sides have not agreed on a site, but that will not delay Tuesday's expected announcement.

"This transaction will be an intent to move to St. Louis, and until conditions are met and the transaction has closed, the team will still be in Los Angeles," Shaw said. "As far as when we will physically move to St. Louis, that hasn't really been determined yet."

Much of the deal hinges on the sale of personal seat licenses, which have yet to be marketed. Fans who wish to buy season tickets will pay a one-time fee in addition to paying for the tickets.

"The prime 50-yard-line type of seat will cost $4,500," Shaw said. "There will be several thousand seats in the $250 range, and there will be 7,000 to 8,000 seats that will be sold on a game-to-game basis with no personal seat license fee."

The sale of seat licenses, which is expected to generate more than $60 million, will be used to:

* Pay off the estimated $30 million owed on the outstanding bonds for the renovation of Anaheim Stadium when the Rams moved in 1980.

* Cover all legal expenses in preparing for the move as well as any legal costs that might arise from lawsuits being filed.

* Take care of any damages that might be owed on Juliette Low School once the team gives six-months notice it is vacating Rams Park.

* Cover all moving expenses.

* Build the team's new practice facility.

* Contribute to the expenses St. Louis will absorb for marketing the personal seat licenses.

* Pay St. Louis beer distributor Jerry Clinton $8 million for giving up his share of the stadium lease.

* Reimburse the Rams for 1994 losses, which Shaw projected to be $6 million to $7 million, the result of poor attendance, decreased radio rights and an increased payroll.

There was speculation earlier that St. Louis would also cover an expected $12 million to $15 million NFL relocation fee--paid to NFL owners for eliminating the expansion opportunity in a new city. But Shaw said that issue hasn't been addressed yet.

"It is not part of the deal," Shaw said. "There appears to be some confusion on the matter. St. Louis will pay for all of our relocation costs, but as for a fee for moving to another city and removing the expansion opportunity, I'm not sure that exists in this case because the NFL owners rejected expansion in St. Louis."

Shaw declined to place an exact figure to the team's projected profit as a result of the St. Louis deal, but he said if the stadium sells out, "I think the club will do very well."

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