Facts regarding NFL Rams have given way to speculation & fantasy in St. Louis

Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke would need to pay $200 million-$400 million of his own money for this Riverfront Stadium to be built in St. Louis.

Dealing in what ifs in news and sports is the product of the 24 hour news cycle with both radio and TV capitalizing on it. It fuels all talk formats. Why? You have to fill time and there’s a lot of it. Further, speculation makes for great theater. A good example of this lies in the speculation that is fueling St. Louis in its efforts to keep the Rams this coming season. However, speculations aside, looks as if owner and Missouri native –Stan Kroenke – will move the franchise back to Los Angeles in time for the 2016 season.

Kroenke’s partnered with the Stockbridge Capital Group. They’re overseeing The City of Champions Revitalization Initiativein Inglewood California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Part of this revitalization project includes the building of an 80,000 seat football stadium which will return the NFL to the Los Angeles area after what will have been a 21 year hiatus.

This isn’t speculation. This is fact. It’s happening and there’s really nothing anyone can do to stop it from happening. And if Kroenke’s building it, it’s going to be the Rams’ eventual home base. If you think otherwise you’re dealing with fantasy.

Last week, a headline from INSIDESTL.com read: “If Kroenke Moves On, Who Could Fill Rams’ Ownership Void?” Shane Gray wrote the article because Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s stadium task force co-head Dave Peacock fired a shot on a St. Louis sports radio show randomly discussing the possibility Kroenke could be forced to sell his team. “The goal is to keep the Rams,” Peacock said during the radio interview. “Teams can be prevented from moving, but owners can move. Ownership can change within a team and that’s probably more palatable than actually moving a team. And I don’t know that Stan Kroenke long-term will own the team. I don’t know that. And I don’t know if Stan Kroenke knows that.”

So, Gray ran with it, discussing possible new owners in the event Kroenke was to sell the team based on Peacock’s theory (a theory conjured up, mind you, with not much evidence to back it).

Speculation can also add a measure of fantasy. Let’s put those two terms together and you have Specu-Fantasy. That’s what Gray’s article is; Specu-Fantasy. Here’s why: Kroenke isn’t going to sell the Rams and no one can force him to. His possible team-relocation back to Los Angeles isn’t a detriment to the league; it’s a benefit to it.

This is a fact (not speculation). Kroenke doesn’t sell any of his sports enterprises; he only buys them. That’s what Gray has written throughout this St. Louis stadium issue in regards to the Rams’ owner, and he’s absolutely correct.

Another important fact to keep in mind about the Rams’ owner as reported via some of Gray’s other articles follows: Kroenke likes to own the real estate and facilities his teams play in. That’s an absolute fact. This is why the NFL’s return to Los Angeles is happening. It’s all thanks to Kroenke. He owns the Rams and the land he’s building his stadium on in Inglewood.

Here’s another fact for you regarding Kroenke and the Rams’ Edward Jones Dome lease, specifically that Top Tier stipulation. Kroenke doesn’t have to fork out a red cent of his money to ensure the EJD becomes one of the top eight stadiums in the NFL. The state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis is responsible for every penny.

And after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Rams $700 million renovation proposal of the EJD over the CVCs $124 million proposal, that gave Kroenke and the Rams free agency which Kroenke is taking full advantage of now going year-to-year able to leave when he needs to. That’s happening because of another fact. According to Forbes, of the 32 NFL teams, the Rams are dead last in value at $930 million which is way below the $1.4 billion average per franchise. These facts make the proposed $900 million St. Louis Riverfront Stadium worth as much as the renderings for AEGs now defunct Farmers Field.Nothing.

Here’s why the value rings in at nothing. For that Riverfront Stadium to be built, it will require Kroenke to fork over somewhere between $200 million to $400 million. What makes anyone think he would fork over that much coin for a non-existant stadium when the only stadium that matters is the one his team currently plays in, the EJD? And remember, the top tier stipulation in his EJD lease says he doesn’t have to fork over one red cent to make the EJD one of the eight best in the league.

Here’s another fact for you. It’s all about Location! Location! Location! Los Angeles- the home of Hollywood a.k.a. the Entertainment Capital of the World – is a much more desirable and valuable media market place than St. Louis ever was or will be. Period. If Kroenke’s going to shell out between a quarter of a billion to half a billion dollars of his own coin to build a football stadium, it stands to reason he’ll do that in a market place that will increase the value of his team minimum three times its current value which is dead last in the league.

That’s exactly what he’s doing with his real estate investment in Inglewood. Kroenke’s increasing the value of his team from dead last to top five in the entire NFL.

And let’s not go the “L.A. lost three teams because they couldn’t support them. What’s any different now?” route. That is nothing but a tired lie.

Nothing’s different. Los Angeles has always been able to support the NFL. The Rams first called Los Angeles home for 49 years prior to the move to the Mid-West in 1995. Georgia Frontiere moved the team not because there wasn’t a fan following, but because she was offered hundreds of millions of dollars by St. Louis and only after she purged the team of its best players driving the team into the ground.

Knicks vs. Lakers isn’t what it once was

Knicks head coach Derek Fisher meets the L.A. media upon his return to face the Lakers.
Knicks head coach Derek Fisher meets the L.A. media upon his return to face the Lakers.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

New York Knicks (12-51) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (17-46) was once a marquee NBA match-up.

These two franchises played for the championship in three out of four years in the early seventies with the New Yorkers taking two of the three meetings garnering the Knicks their only two titles in franchise history.

For the time being, not so much.

What was once the household names of Jerry West vs. Walt Frazier and Wilt Chamberlain vs. Willis Reed has digressed to the not so household names of Jeremy Lin vs. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Hill vs. Andrea Bargnani.

Factor in both teams’ leading scorers and perennial all-stars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are out with season-ending injuries, Thursday’s game figures to have more of a Summer League match-up rather than a clash of two of the league’s storied franchises.

A little nostalgia from the benches is more what people are looking forward to when the lottery-bound teams meet Thursday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Knicks rookie head coach Derek Fisher returns to face a Lakers team he helped win five titles as a player. Assisting Fisher is Kurt Rambis who teamed up with Lakers coach Byron Scott during the Showtime Era helping the Lakers wn three of their five titles in the 80s.

And of course there is Knicks first year president and ex-Lakers head coach Phil Jackson who still happens to be Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss’ man. Jackson guided the Lakers to five titles in this new millennium.

So much more drama seems to be off the court than on it for both teams which makes this match-up so intriguing.

The Knicks – losers of five straight – have the worst record in the league while the Lakers – who snapped a five game losing streak of their own beating Detroit Tuesday at Staples Center – own the leagues fourth worst record.

Although this east coast-west coast rivalry isn’t what it used to be, it can return to what it once was with both teams getting healthy through the draft and free agency. Something both teams are banking on.

To hear from Derek Fisher and Byron Scott, click on the video with this story.

L.A. Clippers celebrate “Ralph Lawler Night” honoring long time announcer

Clippers - past and present - came back to Staples Center Monday night for "Ralph Lawler Night."
Clippers – past and present – came back to Staples Center Monday night for “Ralph Lawler Night.”

Sports fans in Los Angeles have been spoiled listening to the play-by-play voices of the teams – both college and pro – that have called the City of Angels home.

Among the elite voices are the Dodgers’ Vin Scully, Bob Miller of the Kings and the late Chick Hearn of the Lakers.

The legendary voice of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ralph Lawler, is in that conversation as well of course. Currently in his 36th season calling Clippers games, he was honored with Lawler Night at Staples Center for Monday’s game between the Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Catch words or phrases like “Bingo!” after a three-point bucket and “Oh me, Oh my!” are what Clipper Nation have recognized all these years – good and bad.

How about “Lawler’s Law?” Late in the game Lawler, during Clipper telecasts on Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket after one of the teams gets its 100th point says, “First team to 100 wins. That’s the law.”

“Ralph is a true legend in Los Angeles sports,” said Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket Senior Vice President and General Manager Steve Sampson. “Monday’s celebration is a true reflection of his passion for the game and dedication to Clipper Nation.”

Scully, Miller, former Clippers players Gary Grant, Lamond Murray and Pooh Richardson among others were in the building to pay tribute to Lawler.

All fans going to the game received a special “Oh Me, Oh My” t-shirt. At halftime L.A. City Council President Herb J. Wesson presented a proclamation officially making March 9th “Ralph Lawler Day” in Los Angeles.

Lawler’s won three local Emmy’s for his announcing and has called 2.838 Clipper games (and still going) making him the third longest tenured broadcaster in the NBA.

To hear from Lawler and some current and former Clippers, click on the video with this story.

Clippers look to win 5th straight without Griffin hosting Memphis

The Los Angeles Clippers (37-19) have won four straight averaging 118 points per game all without Blake Griffin in the line-up. The All-star has been sidelined with a staph infection in his right elbow since just before the all-star break and will, most likely, be out a few more weeks.

Los Angeles will be tested tonight when they host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-14) and their front line that includes all-star center Marc Gasol and former Clipper Zach Randolph. As a team, the Grizzlies give up just 92 points per game.

In the meantime, the Clippers have been able to weather the storm without Griffin thus far with a much more fluid offense. Shooting guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford have combined to average a little over 40 points per game sans Griffin in the line-up.

Center DeAndre Jordan has been putting up huge numbers since Griffin’s been sidelined. In the last four games the seven year veteran is averaging 21 points and 20 rebounds.

“I’m not playing any differently, “ said Jordan at the teams morning shoot-around. He continued, “I’m picking my spots letting the game come to me and I’m in the right spots at the right time.”

To hear more from DeAndre Jordan as well as Jama Crawford and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, click on the video with this story.

This is the second meeting between these two western conference rivals this season. The Clippers fell to the Grizzlies in Memphis this November, 107-91. Tip-off is set for 7:30 at Staple Center.

Clippers’ Jordan gets one last snub for spot on West All-Star team

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis will miss this Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in New York because of a right shoulder sprain that’s kept him of the line-up in New Orleans’ last two games.

You’d think Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would get a call from the commissioner’s office as Davis’ replacement but that call never came. Instead, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki got the call to replace Davis on the West roster.

The Jordan snub obviously didn’t come unnoticed by his Clippers teammates and head coach Doc Rivers. They understand offense sells and defense doesn’t especially in the all-star game where it’s non-existent.

In his seventh season with the Clippers, Jordan has been putting up all-star numbers as, easily, the best defender in the league averaging double-figures in rebounds and scoring with his points coming off rebound opportunities and five block shots per contest.

Clippers DeAndre Jordan (left) was snubbed for the West All-Star Team in favor of Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki (right). courtesy: LM Otero/AP
Clippers DeAndre Jordan (left) was snubbed for the West All-Star Team in favor of Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki (right).
courtesy: LM Otero/AP

What they do know is if the Clippers have a legitimate shot at winning an NBA title as soon as this season, Jordan’s defense and rebounding will be a big reason why.

“Next year I’ll just have to average 20 points a game,” said Jordan after scoring 24 points and pulling down 20 boards in the win over the Rockets. The third straight game he’s had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the absence of forward Blake Griffin out with a staph infection in his right elbow. “At this point there’s nothing I can do about it (the all-star snub). I’ve moved on. It’s cool.”

“There has never been a team that’s won a championship without being a decent defensive team or a great defensive team.” Said Rivers when asked about the snub. “The defensive side is always forgotten in the All-Star Game. I think they should include the best defender.”

To hear more from the Clippers on Jordan’s all-star snub, watch the video accompanying this story.

This will be Nowitzki’s 13 all-star game appearance in his 17th season in the league. He won’t replace Davis in the West’s starting line-up. Golden State rookie head coach Steve Kerr will pick Davis’ replacement as the starter on the front line.

Relocation fee to L.A. could cost NFL owner & city upwards of $1 billion

Rams owner Stan Kroenke (left) is building an 80,000 seat stadium in Inglewood.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke (left) is building an 80,000 seat stadium in Inglewood.

Since the Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles in 1995, 22 of the 32 NFL teams have moved into new stadiums with all of them built at Los Angeles’ expense. That includes the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis where the Rams moved after the 1994 season.

The cost to the City of Angels is the privilege of being the home of a franchise in the biggest and most lucrative entertainment/sports industry: the National Football League.

Los Angeles – the second largest media market in the country also known as the Entertainment Capital of the World – has always been considered an NFL market.

For the last two decades L.A.’s game has been off the field being used as leverage by the owners threatening a move to the City of Angels in the process fleecing their current cities of taxpayer dollars to build these new multi-billion dollar stadiums. This has enabled the value of all 32 franchises to climb to an average of $1.4 billion apiece. That’s a total of $44.8 billion.

The Indanapolis Colts - who parked their team plane at LAX - are one of many teams using L.A. as leverage to get a stadium deal in their current city.
The Indanapolis Colts – who parked their team plane at LAX – are one of many teams using L.A. as leverage to get a stadium deal in their current city.

That “L.A. Leverage Game” for the league is a thing of the past with all these new cathedrals of the gridiron up and running. The St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are the three remaining teams needing new buildings. The Raiders and Chargers leveraging their respective cities with L.A. can’t work because the cities they call home and L.A. are all California cities and are thus subjected to the exact same laws. It’s absolutely known that all government entities in the Golden State will not earmark taxpayer dollars towards sports stadiums. It’s just no fiscally responsible.

For L.A. to get back on the field a stadium needs to be privately funded. Enter Rams owner Stan Kroenke. He’s partnered with the Stockbridge Group in Inglewood and is going to build an 80,000 seat stadium where the old Hollywood Park Race Track sits on his own dime.  Plans are for it to be done in time for the 2018 season with the Coliseum or Rose Bowl a temporary home for a team – or teams – moving to L.A. in the meantime.

Kroenke is buiding his NFL stadium in Inglewood as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project.
Kroenke is buiding his NFL stadium in Inglewood as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project.

Estimates are an owner looking to relocate his team to L.A. will have to fork up a fee of half-a-billion to a billion dollars. Were that to actually happen, that cost would be passed down to the L.A. football fan paying outrageous prices for personal seat licenses; a voucher to get you a ticket inside the stadium. Then there’s parking, the actual ticket to the game as well as concessions for food and drinks that would undoubtedly be astronomical all because of this relocation fee.

A team owner willing to move his team to Los Angeles and the fans that have waited a generation to be able to attend an NFL game in their home city SHOULD NOT be subjected to a hefty relocation fee.

The 32 owners have made multi-billions of dollars using L.A. as leverage and will make a great deal more once a franchise or two calls Los Angeles home. That’s WITHOUT so-called relocation fees.

Making an owner pay a billion dollar relocation fee to L.A. pales in comparison to the multi-billions of dollars Los Angeles has netted the league over the past two decades as a leverage piece.

According to Forbes franchise values have quadrupled in the last 17 years when most of the 22 stadiums were built. The Dallas Cowboys top the list at $3.2 billion with the newly crowned Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots coming in second valued at $2.6 billion. Both play in two of the 22 stadiums built since L.A. has been without a team.

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft purchased the team for $175 million in 1994 which is, coincidently, the last year Los Angeles was home to the Rams and Raiders.  Kraft’s franchise is now worth some 15 times his initial investment.  Thanks partly to the leverage game L.A. was forced to play.

On the field, L.A. has a rich NFL history with the Rams who called L.A. home for 49 years. They played 34 of them in “L.A. proper” at the Memorial Coliseum and the last 15 in Anaheim sharing the “Big A” with the baseball Angels.

The Raiders left their birthplace in Oakland calling the Coliseum home for 13 years before returning to the East Bay after the 1994 season. The Chargers inaugural season in 1960 was spent in L.A. before bolting south for San Diego where they’ve called home for over 50 years.

Since ‘95, if an NFL fan in Los Angeles wanted to see the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers among others in person, a two-hour and more than 125 mile drive to San Diego, or a five-hour 370 mile drive to Phoenix or an eight-hour drive or $200 roundtrip flight to the Bay Area have been the best options for L.A. fans to see these talents in person. That’s how L.A. used as leverage has affected the L.A. football fan.

Los Angeles has made multi-billions of dollars for all 32 NFL owners off the field and has a rich NFL past on it. Waiving any type of relocation fee to L.A. would be a reward for its football fans who have gone an entire generation without a team to call their own.





Lakers’ Bryant to have shoulder surgery Wednesday, Kobe done for the season

Injuries have cut short Kobe Bryant’s last three seasons with the latest being the torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder suffered in a loss in New Orleans last week. Monday he got a second opinion on the injury which confirmed the tear and now Bryant will have surgery to repair it on Wednesday.

“Rehab for a surgically repaired rotator cuff takes between four to six months,” said Dr. Alan Byer in a phone interview Monday. Byers, an orthopedic specialist at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine California, said that time frame for rehabilitation is typical with this sort of injury which is usually associated with baseball pitchers.

Bryant came back from a torn Achilles tendon and a fractured knee enduring long rehabilitation in both cases. Now at 36 years of age, he finds himself with another long and sometimes painful rehabilitation process to get back on the court. Retirement is also a consideration for the 19-year Lakers veteran. That would mean leaving $25 million on the table he is scheduled to make next season.

“I don’t see Kobe as the kind of guy that wants to leave his legacy on these terms,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Monday. “I think he wants to go out on his own terms.”

Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw – Bryant’s ex-teammate with the Lakers and later a Lakers assistant under Phil Jackson – weighed in on if Kobe can and will come back from this latest setback. To see Shaw’s comments click on the video with this story.

Bryant played 35 games and made $23.5 million this season, averaging 22.3 points but shooting a career-worst 37.3 percent, well below his career average of 45.4 percent coming into the season.

Kobe is expected to be around the Lakers training facility to help the team and will be quite active in recruiting up-coming free agents to play in L.A. next season, presumably Bryant’s last, to try to make one last playoff run and go after a sixth championship.

Griffin named to 5th All-Star team; Clippers rout Nets, 123-84

For all-star forward Blake Griffin and the rest of his Los Angeles Clippers teammates, Thursday night’s 123-84 blowout of the visiting Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center paled in comparison to the news earlier in the day that Griffin was voted a starter in next month’s All-Star Game extravaganza at Madison Square Garden in New York. At the moment, he’s the best physical entertainer in the entertainment capital of the world – Los Angeles.

Being voted to his fifth all-star game by the fans, Griffin showed his appreciation leading all scorers with 24 points in just over 24 minutes of play breaking out an arsenal that included jumpers as well as his signature high-flying dunks.

Griffin received 700,615 fan votes giving the Clippers leading scorer his fourth-straight start for the Western Conference. Joining him as a starter are Lakers guard Kobe Bryant – who likely will be replaced after suffering a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, Memphis center Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

“It is a great honor to make the All-Star team,” Griffin said. “I want to thank all of the fans who voted for me as a starter. I am excited to represent the Clippers and Los Angeles in New York City next month.”

To hear more from Griffin on being named a starter for the West in the 64th All-Star Game next month, click on the video with this story.

Currently eighth in the league in scoring, Griffin leads the Clippers averaging 23 points per game. He also pulls down 7.5 rebounds per contest and a career-high five assists. He’s the only player in the NBA who can boast about such numbers he’s averaging in those three categories this season.

Griffin led five Clippers (29-14) in double figure scoring in Thursday’s blowout over the Nets (18-25). Center DeAndre Jordan worked another double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford each poured in 17 and Glen “Big Baby” Davis joined Crawford off the bench adding ten.

Perennial all-star Chris Paul dished out 17 assists in under 25 minutes, scoring just six points in the end. He and his head coach Doc Rivers are just two of three NBA players that can say that.

“It’s a huge honor to join Doc Rivers in any statistical category,” said Paul who’ll have to wait to be added to the All-Star team by the coaches. “Doc was maybe a lot better than most of us thought he was (laughter).”

“I did notice that,” said Rivers when asked if he noticed that particular stat. He added, “I welcomed Chris to the club. He though it was a big deal until he saw my name up there, and that went away.”

Los Angeles trailed early by three at 17-14 in the first to the Nets who played without injured starters Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams. After that it was all Clippers who led by as many as 46 points.

The Clippers are in Phoenix Sunday afternoon to take on the Suns and return home Monday hosting the Denver Nuggets in the second game of a back-to-back.

Rams back to L.A. headlines 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Although the second largest media market hasn’t been home to an NFL team in 20 years, the beautiful Los Angeles weather has made its annual January appearance just in time for some pro football.

80 degree temperatures have greeted this year’s out-going college seniors this week who are taking part in Saturday’s 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at StubHub Center in Carson.

With the game’s slogan being For the players By the players many current and former members of the National Football League Players Association are here to help mentor the draft-eligible players trying to impress the many NFL – and CFL – scouts eyeing the new talent from the stands.

The coaching staffs of both teams include former players and coaches with local Los Angeles NFL ties. Let’s not forget the Rams called L.A. home for 49 years prior to their move to St. Louis in 1994 and the Raiders had a “cup of coffee” playing at the Coliseum for 13 seasons prior to moving back to Oakland in 1994 as well.

Convenient because it appears Los Angeles’ exile from the NFL is just about done with talks the Rams could be moving back as early as this coming season but with 2016 a more realistic targetdate.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke has partnered with a group in Inglewood to develop the almost 300 acres of land between the Fabulous Forum and the old Hollywood Park Race Track. Construction of an 80,000 seat stadium is part of what’s now called the City of Champions Revitalization Project.

The American Conference team is coached by Super Bowl champion Mike Holmgren. Included on his staff for the game are ex-L.A. Rams safety Nolan Cromwell as well as ex-L.A. Rams assistant coach Gil Haskell.

The National Conference team is coached by former St. Louis Rams head coach and assistant Mike Martz. His staff includes former L.A. Rams Jackie Slater and Keith Lyle who also played in St. Louis. Ex-St. Louis Rams Az-Zahir Hakim and Jeff Zgonina are also on his staff.

Milling through the stadium as scouts and mentors the list includes Ex-L.A. Rams running back Lawrence McCutcheon, current Rams running back Tre Mason as well as Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Of course the hot topic this week besides the game is the possible Rams move back to Los Angeles. I was able to ask some of these current and former Rams about a possible move. To hear what they had to say click on the video with this story.

Kickoff for Saturday’s 4th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is set for 1pm PST, 4pm EST. If you’re not attending the game you can watch t on ESPN2. Plenty of tickets are available and can be bought at the StubHub Center ticket office as well as on-line at collegiate.nflpa.com/ticketsandgear. Group discounts as well as discounts for the military are available.

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