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Group Forms to Keep Rams in Anaheim

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Several prominent business and government leaders, including fast-food magnate Carl Karcher and Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly, met for the first time Tuesday to organize an effort to keep the Rams in Orange County.

Don Andersen, executive director of the Orange County Sports Assn., said the group, which will also include recently retired Disneyland President Jack Lindquist and Newport Beach developer George L. Argyros, is not interested in buying the Rams.

“We’re more of an ad-hoc committee that will explore all facets of the Rams’ situation,” said Andersen, the committee spokesman. “We want to find ways to get people into Anaheim Stadium, possible ways the city and county can get involved.”

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Among the items discussed Tuesday at the Anaheim Marriott were corporate support for a ticket-selling drive, the economic impact of having a pro football team, and what city and stadium officials can do to keep the Rams.

The Rams in May invoked an escape clause in their stadium lease that allows them to leave in 15 months, and the team has been fielding relocation offers from Baltimore, St. Louis and Hartford, Conn., which are offering new stadiums built with public funds.

The Rams have had two meetings with Baltimore Oriole owner Peter Angelos, who wants to purchase a minority interest in the team and move it to Baltimore, and a St. Louis delegation, headed by House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), will meet with the Rams this month.

“We don’t think it’s too late (to make a run at the Rams),” Andersen said. “I think this group will have as good a chance as anyone to determine whether or not something can be done to keep them here.”

The committee was spearheaded by Frank Bryant, head of Irvine-based Traveland USA and president of the Rams Booster Club. The group, which will meet again in two weeks, also includes former Orange County Supervisor Ralph Clark, Karcher’s attorney, Andy Puzder, and Andersen.

“This was our first meeting--it was organizational in nature, and we tried to identify some areas we want to explore,” Andersen said. “We’ll be more prepared to discuss an agenda in two weeks.”

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