StL Rams Readying For Team Sale, Possible Move

Sports fans in St. Louis spend an inordinate amount of time telling anyone and everyone who will listen that they are the “best fans in baseball.” Unfortunately, with all the time they spent patting themselves on the back in baseball over the past few years, they didn’t notice that their football team, the St. Louis Rams, has been up for sale since the death of owner Georgia Frontiere in early 2008.

(Say hello to your Cleveland Los Angeles St. Louis Los Angeles Rams!)

Frontiere’s children, who inherited the team (and a hefty estate-tax bill) from their late mother, have been unable to find a local buyer for their 60% stake in the team and are now preparing to put the team on the open market to any and all bidders - even those who have no interest in staying in Missouri (i.e., everyone). Los Angeles Rams - where have we heard that before?

Bernie Miklasz of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH has the scoop:

Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday that [Rams owners Chip] Rosenbloom and [Lucia] Rodriguez have retained the services of Goldman Sachs, the prominent investment banking firm. The owners will ask Goldman Sachs to help facilitate the sale of the Rams by evaluating bids and soliciting potential buyers. The sale price is unknown, but Forbes magazine’s most recent estimate listed the Rams’ value at $929 million.

And if you are a St. Louis Rams fan, here’s the reason to be concerned: I’m told there will be no preconditions attached to the sale of the Rams. This means the Rams could be scooped up by out-of-town buyers.

One of the major thorns in the side of a potential buyer (other than the fact that the team is in Missouri of all places) is the team’s complicated lease with its stadium, the Edward Jones Dome. Even though the Dome is a scant 14 years old, it’s aging fast compared to the rest of the NFL. Any buyer would require substantial upgrades to the stadium to stick around, and if you hadn’t noticed, this is not the ideal economic climate to undertake such a venture:

The Rams’ lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission stipulates that the Edward Jones Dome must be a “top-tier” facility that ranks among the top eight stadiums in terms of quality in the 32-team NFL by 2015. If that top-level status is not met, the Rams would be able to opt out of the stadium lease following the 2014 season.

Even with a $30 million upgrade that’s being done now, the Edward Jones Dome will be one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL by 2015.

The nation’s 52nd-largest city might not have the cash to compete for the Rams’ affections, but you can bet there’s someone in the nation’s 2nd-largest city who does. Los Angeles and the NFL both want a football team in the nation’s second-largest market, and this might be the perfect opportunity, finally, to get one. Either that or they’ll follow in the footsteps of another St. Louis institution and head to Belgium - get your “Leuven Rams” jerseys today.