ANAHEIM, Calif. The Los Angeles Rams have rejected Anaheim's offer of a 15-year extension to their practice facility lease, which expires Dec. 31, and have countered with a two-year demand, fueling speculation that the team might be setting itself up for a move.
"It appears they're shopping around," said James D. Ruth, city manager. "Maybe they're doing this for leverage. I don't know. . . . If they're going to leave they're going to leave. We hope that they don't."
John Shaw, Rams executive vice president, said the team has no plans to move despite repeated rumors involving, among other cities, Baltimore. But he said there are serious concerns about the team's prospects for financial success in Anaheim.
"The city manager can draw any conclusions he wishes," Shaw said. "If he reaches that conclusion, maybe he's concluding our economic situation in Anaheim is not a good one.
"Our gross receipts are among those at the bottom of the league, and with recent expenses and the advent of free agency, I'm just not sure how viable it is going to be."
After the first nine games of the season, the Rams rank last in average home attendance at 45,555 fans.
"If it comes to the extent that it becomes increasingly difficult to put a competitive team on the field for economic reasons," Shaw said, "and we can't compete for players because of the economics of our present situation, then we would likely explore other opportunities."
An escape clause in the Anaheim Stadium lease allows the Rams to leave after 15 months notice and with an accompanying $30 million to settle a stadium improvement debt.