Peter G. Angelos, majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, was in Los Angeles Thursday to meet with Ram officials about the possibility of moving the NFL team to Maryland.
Reached at his hotel, Angelos refused comment on a meeting schedule or what might be discussed.
“I simply can’t answer your questions,” he said.
And John Shaw, Ram executive vice president, said he would not comment or confirm that owner Georgia Frontiere or team officials had met with Angelos.
But a source familiar with the situation said Angelos was here for informal meetings, mostly to allow the parties to get acquainted. Angelos was accompanied by Larry Lucchino, a member of his proposed NFL investment group who has already met several times with Ram officials. They were scheduled to return to Baltimore today.
Angelos, 65-year-old head of a Baltimore law firm, is a point man in the effort to bring an NFL team to Baltimore, which is offering construction of a state-of-the-art, $160-million stadium in Camden Yards and a lucrative financial package as incentives. The Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are most often mentioned as targets.
Ideally, Angelos has said, he would like a Baltimore-based investment group to purchase a team. But he has indicated he would be willing to be part of a non-controlling interest to facilitate a move. This dovetails with Frontiere’s stance that she does not want to sell the Rams but might be willing to take on a minority partner.
“We’re flexible,” Angelos said last week. “Our primary goal is to complete the Camden Yards sports complex, and that requires an NFL team in Baltimore.
“We’ll do whatever’s necessary to accomplish that. From percentage of ownership, we’re prepared to own 100% or less than that. We’re open to reasonable proposals, and we’re interested in any franchise.
“If the Rams are available, it’s true that we’re very interested.”
Setting a “reasonable” price might be difficult. Financial World recently placed the Rams’ value at $140 million, with a fair purchase price of $120 million. But it is believed team officials have a higher price tag, more in the neighborhood of the record $185 million paid recently for the Philadelphia Eagles.
A 40% non-controlling interest in a team at that price would be $74 million.
A group purchasing a piece of the Rams would require approval of 75% of the league’s owners. Under NFL policy, which prohibits cross ownership with other professional teams, Angelos’ interest in the Orioles would complicate matters. But there is a proposal under consideration--sponsored by Shaw and the Rams--that would lift the ban on dual ownership. The issue could be discussed at the next league meetings, May 23-25 in Miami.
The Rams became free agents May 3 when they informed the city of Anaheim that they were exercising an escape clause in their Anaheim Stadium lease. The clause allows the team to move with 15 months’ notice after a payment of about $30 million to cover stadium improvements made to entice the team to leave Los Angeles in 1980. The team made a $2-million, non-refundable deposit to invoke the clause.
Angelos has said he is confident of Baltimore’s chances of having a team by 1995, “because the financial arrangements available to an owner are the best in the country.”
In addition to a new stadium, the proposed financial package includes all revenue from tickets, sky boxes, club seats, parking and concessions for a team, which would pay only $1 in rent per game. The Colts’ training facility would also be renovated.
In Anaheim, the Rams pay rent of 60 cents per admission, not to exceed $400,000 per year, and give the city 7.5% of ticket revenue, 20% of luxury box revenue and about half of parking and concessions.
One potential snag in Baltimore’s plans is the intention of Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Redskins, to build a new stadium in Laurel, Md., about 15 miles away. Cooke, an influential NFL owner, has said he is opposed to having a second team in the area.
But Angelos said last week that Cooke did not concern him.
“Jack Kent Cooke should mind his own business, which is administering to Redskin fans, which are a large and lovely group of people who have no connection with Maryland football fans,” he said. " . . . I wouldn’t pay much attention to him.”