The Chess Match Continues: Kroenke’s Latest Purchase


You might have heard, but St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke recently bought 60 acres of land in Inglewood, Calif. That tract of land is big enough for a lot of ventures.

Another commercial or residential development, perhaps?

Or maybe he’ll just flip the property for a nice profit.

Of course, he could always build a football stadium…

Whoa! Let me stop you right there. Put any talk of a “Rampocalypse” on hold and just take a deep breath. Kroenke’s purchase changes little in the current staring contest between the Rams and St. Louis.

Let’s start with some facts. Following the 2014 season, the Rams have an escape clause in their lease if the Edward Jones Dome is not considered a “first tier” stadium, meaning among the top eight facilities (hint: it’s not). At that point, they’d be on a year-to-year agreement with the City of St. Louis.

If/when the escape clause is triggered, the Rams will have the option of relocating (assuming an agreement can be worked out between the NFL and the new city).

In an effort to help the stadium reach that status, the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Convention proposed a $124 million upgrade to the Edward Jones Dome in 2012. The Rams countered with a $700 million overhaul.

Obviously there’s a bit of a discrepancy between the team and the city. The uncertainty has created restlessness among the fans, and Kroenke’s silence only fuels the speculation.

Unfortunately the Rams do not include me in their discussions about the stadium situation, so I can’t give any indication on if they’re staying or leaving. But I can tell you this: whether Kroenke has 60 acres in Los Angeles, St. Louis or Timbuktu, he’s going to do what’s in his best interest.

As the owner of a football team, Kroenke has a product (one of only 32) that any city would want. While it would be nice to believe his Missouri roots would make him want to keep the Rams in St. Louis, Kroenke is a businessman first.

At this point, he is doing everything he can to gain leverage over the city – cue the Inglewood purchase. In any situation, Kroenke will want to reap some benefit from the property.

The Atlanta Falcons present a model for the Rams in terms of stadium financing. Initial estimates for the stadium say it will cost $1.2 billion. The Atlanta taxpayers will contribute $200 million, while Falcons owner Arthur Blank will provide the majority of the funding for the remaining $1 billion (with some help from the NFL).

Whether he relocates the team or not, Kroenke will be looking for taxpayer support in building a new complex. At this point, all his moves are posturing to ensure he’s able to get the best deal possible.

So while there’s little comfort to be gained, realize that this most recent purchase doesn’t change the situation. The chess match continues, but we’re still a long way from a resolution.

UPDATE: Shortly before publishing this piece, the St. Louis Business Journal reported that Kroenke is planning to apply for a license to create an MLS team in L.A. The speculation continues.

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