ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis Rams have a new owner.
The organization confirmed on Thursday that the majority owners of the Rams have reached an agreement to sell the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The Urbana, Ill. native says he’s a Rams fan and doesn’t want to move the team. NFL owners must approve the sale by a 75 percent vote.
The 55-year-old Khan is the president of an auto parts manufacturer called Flex-N-Gate in Urbana. He will reportedly purchase the 60 percent of the Rams owned by Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, the children of famed Rams owner Georgia Frontiere.
Forbes Magazine reports that the Rams franchise is worth $929 million, however some experts say it’s more like $750 million.
Khan has had financial issues. Federal court records in Illinois show that the Internal Revenue Service accused Khan and his wife, Ann, of improperly sheltering $250 million in income between 1999 and 2003. That decreased their taxes by $85 million. Shahid Khan told The Champaign News-Gazette last year that he paid the IRS $68 million to settle the dispute and claimed he did nothing wrong.
Forbes ranked Flex-N-Gate as the 229th largest private company in the U.S. It has an estimated $2.14 billion in annual revenue and more than 9,500 employees at plants and other facilities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Spain.
The sale of the Rams is no surprise. The late Frontiere died in January 2008 and her children have no ties to St. Louis. They are involved in other interests.
St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts organized a group to purchase the Rams. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh joined the group when it first formed but dropped out after he faced criticism for his involvement in wanting to buy the Rams.
The sale of the Rams has raised concerns in St. Louis, which lost the Cardinals after the 1987 season. That’s when Bill Bidwill moved the team to Arizona. Several games last season were not sold out. But the team’s NFL worst 1-15 record was a big reason why.
The NFL decided not to award St. Louis a franchise when it gave Jacksonville, Fla. an expansion team in 1993. St. Louis civic leaders persuaded Frontiere, a native of St. Louis, to move the team from Los Angeles back to her hometown.
The Rams could move as early as 2014 because of a loophole in their lease. If the Edward Jones Dome is not considered among the top quarter of all NFL stadiums by various measurements, then the Rams could leave St. Louis. The dome is turning into one of the league’s older venues, so it’s unlikely it could reach the top quarter.
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