Rams moving closer to St. Louis


Peter Angelos yesterday acknowledged what by now seems obvious: The Los Angeles Rams appear likely to move to St. Louis instead of Baltimore.

But Angelos, managing partner of the Orioles, said a failure to lure the team to Baltimore would not diminish his optimism that he will secure an NFL franchise for the city.

"It looks at this point as if the Rams are moving strongly in the direction of St. Louis," Angelos said.

Rams president John Shaw, in an interview published Tuesday in the Orange County Register, said most of the details for a lease at the new stadium under construction in St. Louis are complete. However, announcing a move would only be the first step in a process that would include seeking NFL approval for a relocation and possibly a lawsuit, Shaw said.

The team is prepared to sign a short-term lease at Anaheim Stadium, its current home, in the event a lengthy legal battle ensues or to see if the league is successful in getting a new stadium built in Los Angeles.

Shaw disputed that account in a subsequent interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying "There are several large, unresolved lease issues and no deal is imminent."

However, members of the Rams Booster Club who met with Shaw and team owner Georgia Frontiere last week said they left the sessions convinced the team was headed for St. Louis, according to the Times.

A team spokesman was unavailable for comment yesterday.

"It would take one of the relocation franchises out of the picture and it dilutes the group by one. It's not something we're happy about, but we're not discouraged either," Angelos said of a Rams move to St. Louis.

Angelos said he remains in touch with the Rams, and would not rule out a move to Baltimore if the St. Louis talks falter. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now the focus of his efforts.

"We're moving in the other direction," he said.

Angelos also responded to frustration expressed this week by Steve Story, a trustee brokering the sale of the Bucs for the late owner, Hugh Culverhouse, that the team has attracted plenty of interested bidders but no bids.

Angelos, who reportedly offered $200 million for the team earlier this year if it could be moved to Baltimore, declined to discuss the details of his negotiations for the Bucs, but said, "We have not withdrawn the proposal that was made to the Culverhouse representatives.

"That hasn't been restated in a formal way, but I believe the representatives are aware that that is a price we are willing to pay," Angelos said.

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