John Shaw, the mastermind behind the Rams’ financially successful move to St. Louis, is now effectively holding Rams Park hostage, thereby keeping the Seattle Seahawks from using the practice facility.
The dispute between Shaw and the city of Anaheim, acting on behalf of the Magnolia School District, could present serious problems for Seahawks owner Ken Behring. The Seahawks have already begun painting at the facility, have ordered new carpet and have moved six truckloads of equipment to Rams Park, formerly the Juliette Low Elementary School.
Jim Ruth, Anaheim city manager, told the Seahawks late Friday he now plans to recommend to the City Council on Tuesday night that an agreement be struck between the city and the school district, leaving the Rams out at this time.
At issue is money that the Rams, under terms of their lease when they left for St. Louis, were to pay for repairs to turn the facility back into a school. The school district won’t lease the property to Behring until it has an agreement with the Rams for the repairs.
Shaw says the Rams are ready to convert Rams Park into a school. If the Seahawks use the facility, however, he wants some of the money the school district will receive in rent because of the football improvements the Rams made at the site.
The school district wants Shaw to convert the facility back into a school after the Seahawks leave, but Shaw said if the Seahawks come, the Rams will have no obligation to make such repairs.
In early February, it appeared the Seahawks were all but assured of moving to Rams Park. They had counted on being in the facility by March 1 and intended to hold training sessions there with their players March 15.
But barring an understanding between the school district and city or legal action against the Rams, the Seahawks may have to look elsewhere now for a practice site, or return to Seattle.
The Chicago Bears re-signed defensive end Alonzo Spellman, matching an offer sheet he had received from the Jacksonville Jaguars for $12 million over four years.
Defensive end Fred Stokes, who played the past three seasons with the Rams, signed a three-year contract with the New Orleans Saints.
In a move designed to shore up their linebacking corps, the Denver Broncos signed free agent Bill Romanowski away from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Romanowski, who played in Philadelphia for the past two years, started all 16 games in 1995.
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