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Shaw Meets With Tagliabue, Warns of Impending Suit

March 28, 1995|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is in town, and the Rams have given him until Wednesday to demonstrate progress in their talks or the team will file an antitrust suit Thursday against the league for prohibiting its move to St. Louis.

"I don't think either side wants litigation," said John Shaw, Ram president, after the meeting. "But I'll say this: There will be a lawsuit by Thursday unless there is an extension of the standstill agreement with the league."

If the Rams pursue legal action it will almost certainly force them to play the 1995 season in the Los Angeles area. The team's lease for Anaheim Stadium will be terminated as of Aug. 3, and the Rams have yet to make arrangements for a training camp site.

The NFL and the Rams agreed earlier that the league would be prohibited from taking legal action and seeking a favorable venue with its own lawsuit before March 31. Shaw said the Rams might agree to extend that deadline if there is an indication of progress and the possibility of another vote by NFL owners.

NFL owners rejected the Rams' proposed move to St. Louis at their annual meetings in Phoenix by a vote of 21-3 with six abstentions. Shaw said the league can call for a vote in a matter of weeks.

"But right now there is no progress," Shaw said. "There hasn't been any understanding at all, so there has been no offer. If this continues, there will be legal action."

All four of the Rams' exhibition games have been scheduled for the road, so Shaw said he has a few weeks before being pressed to make arrangements to play this season in St. Louis or the Los Angeles area. The Rams have scheduled a minicamp for next month at Rams Park.

Shaw said there was not much discussion about the league's proposed trust fund to be used for the building of a stadium in the Los Angeles area or the refurbishment of Anaheim Stadium.

"There was more talk about Fox-TV and the players union issue as it relates to the PSL (personal seat license) money," Shaw said. "I think there is an understanding some of the PSL money will be shared, but what part, I don't know."

The Rams offered the league 34% of the more than $70 million raised in the sale of PSLs for St. Louis' new domed stadium, but the owners rejected the proposal without a counteroffer. Several owners, however, left the meetings with the understanding that Tagliabue would work out a settlement.

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