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Checketts, who owns NHL's Blues, heads group interested in buying Rams

ST. LOUIS -- Dave Checketts is heading a group that's seeking to buy the Rams and keep the NFL team in St. Louis, his spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The Rams announced Monday that the family of late owner Georgia Frontiere has hired the investment firm of Goldman Sachs to review the assets of her estate, including the NFL team. The move was seen as potentially expediting a sale of the franchise.

Eric Gelfand, a spokesman for Checketts, said the owner of the NHL's St. Louis Blues first approached Frontiere's son, Chip Rosenbloom, several months ago about possibly buying the Rams. Rosenbloom and his sister, Lucia Rodriguez, inherited 60 percent of the Rams when their mother died in January 2008. Columbia, Mo., billionaire Stan Kroenke owns the remaining 40 percent of the team.

Gelfand said Checketts has put together a group consisting of St. Louisans and outside investors. Gelfand provided an e-mail from Checketts expressing confidence that the group was a good fit to buy the franchise, which Forbes magazine estimates has a value of $929 million.

"We have the ability to get this done, and we have communicated this to the Rams," Checketts wrote in the e-mail.

"Last week, we communicated to Chip in no uncertain terms that he now has a clear St. Louis buyer," Checketts wrote. "We are that buyer."

Gelfand wouldn't disclose other members of Checketts' group.

An NFL rule allows ownership of teams in other sports but only if they are in the same market. That would be a problem if Kroenke wanted to become majority owner of the Rams because he owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Checketts' company, SCP Worldwide, owns Utah's Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer team. But NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the cross-ownership rule doesn't apply to MLS.

"We have reason to believe the NFL would approve our group as we have carefully explored their ownership requirements," Checketts wrote.

The potential sale of the Rams has been rumored since Frontiere's death -- her children are both involved in other interests, and neither has ties to St. Louis.

The possibility of a sale of the Rams has raised concerns in St. Louis, given the city's spotty record with the NFL. The football Cardinals left for Arizona after the 1987 season. The NFL passed over St. Louis for the smaller Jacksonville, Fla., market in 1993 when it awarded an expansion team. Two years later, civic leaders convinced Frontiere, a St. Louis native, to move the Rams from Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest market, to her hometown.

Los Angeles is still without a team, and a loophole in the Rams' lease allows them to move as early as 2014 if the Edward Jones Dome isn't deemed among the top quarter of all NFL stadiums. Though just 14 years old, the dome is fast becoming one of the league's older venues, and getting it into the top quarter seems unlikely.

Gelfand said Checketts is well aware of the stadium issues. "He also knows it's too early to address it specifically," he said.

Gelfand said Checketts' "main goal" is keeping the Rams in St. Louis. Checketts has homes in both New Caanan, Conn., and St. Louis.

"Given his relationship with the Blues, he feels like he's a St. Louisan and wants to do what's best for the community," Gelfand said.

Checketts, 53, and his Sports Capital Partners and Towerbrook Capital Partners purchased the Blues in 2006 from Bill and Nancy Laurie. The Blues have gradually rebuilt under Checketts' leadership and made the playoffs this past season for the first time since 2004.

Checketts became the youngest person ever to run an NBA team at age 28 when he became president and general manager of the Utah Jazz in 1984. He later ran the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden.

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