Every time you read about a member of the Los Angeles Rams signing a big contract, maybe you wonder whose name is on the paycheck. It begs the question: Who owns the LA Rams?
Stan Kroenke has been the owner of the Rams franchise since 2010. He’s not the glibbest owner in the NFL. He’s no Jerry Jones. He doesn’t do interviews after games in the locker room, in fact his nickname is “Silent Stan” since he declines most interview requests.
By whatever metric you want to rank him, Kroenke is a rich, rich individual who had money, married into even more money. He has holdings across the globe and you’ve almost certainly gone shopping at a Kroenke-owned property. He has his detractors…he probably doesn’t show face much in St. Louis these days or in London, but in LA he’s the owner, the boss. As they say, he signs the checks.
Kroenke Comes Alive
Today Stan Kroenke is 75 years old. His birthday is in July. He was already pretty well off when he met a woman named Ann Walton on a ski trip in Aspen, Colorado.
Yes, that Walton, a Wal-Mart fortune heiress. The couple married in 1974 (her net worth today according to Forbes is 8.6 Billion, Stan’s is 12.9 Billion). They have three kids. Remember that, because when Stan dies, they’ll probably own the Rams.
Stan founded the Kroenke Group in 1983, a real estate development group whose main job was to develop shopping plazas around newly-built….wait for it…Wal-Mart stores.
That’s a good way to make big money, remember, there are usually lots of other businesses around a Walmart.
Kroenke Gets Into Sports
Not much is known as to whether or not Kroenke is really a big sports fan. If anything, he seems like a businessman who ran out of ways to make big money, so he got into professional sports. Kroenke had built stadiums, including Ball Arena in Denver (remember, he met Ann in Aspen) for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche and then he bought both teams in 2000.
By then he was already part-owner of the St. Louis Rams.
Kroenke And the Rams
You can’t tell any story about the history of the Rams without including Georgia Frontiere. Seriously, someone should write a book about her.
We will call her Georgia, because it’s about to get confusing.
Georgia married Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom in 1966. He was husband No. 5. When he died – of suspicious causes by the way – Georgia inherited the Rams in 1979. She was the first female owner in the NFL. She also married Dominic Frontiere in 1980. Husband No. 6.
Georgia wanted to get out of LA, because the Coliseum was too big to sell out (and other reasons) so moved the team to Anaheim. Then St. Louis came calling. It had a newly-build Dome. Georgia needed some extra money to move the team. Hello, Stan Kroenke on line one!
Stan bought 30 percent of the Rams and the team headed to St. Louis in 1995.
Kroenke vs. St. Louis
There were good times in St. Louis…at first, the Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999, got back to the Super Bowl in 2001 and lost. They had Kurt Warner. They were the Greatest Show on Turf.
But it didn’t last. Plagued by poor leadership and bad personnel decisions (Sam Bradford?), attendance dropped in St. Louis. The TransWorld Dome had been built quickly and while it was nice, it wasn’t what 21st Century Stadiums should be. Fans stopped coming to games.
Kroenke bought the Rams franchise for $750 million in 2010 (I’m sure that was the deal all along with Georgia). He said all the right things about staying in St. Louis, but it wasn’t happening.
Kroenke quickly had plans to leave for LA. So did the Chargers. So did the Raiders. The NFL was thrilled to stick it to the Raiders and let the Rams have LA. They didn’t really know what to do with the Chargers, so they made them the Rams step-brother.
The city of St. Louis filed a lawsuit. Kroenke, well, his lawyers, maintained that the TransWorld Dome didn’t live up to its contract of being a ‘top-tier’ NFL stadium. But how do you define that? Eventually, the city and the NFL settled with the NFL paying $790 million.
So Stan isn’t beloved in St. Louis. The Rams have been in LA since 2016.
Kroenke vs. London
Kroenke also owns Arsenal FC, one of the top soccer (sorry, I call it soccer) clubs in the world that plays in the famed English Premier League. As I write this, Arsenal FC, the Gunners, are in first place and are the favorites to win the league title.
That’s a big deal for Arsenal.
Arsenal fans hate Stan Kroenke.
There’s no exact specific reason why. It’s mainly because he’s an American and not part of the real fabric of the English soccer world. Arsenal fans also think he hasn’t spent enough money to make the club contenders. He also did himself no favors by throwing support to the concept of a European SuperLeague, where the best teams in the leagues across Europe would form their own league to play. This isn’t the perfect analogy, but think if the best teams in the NFL and CFL went off and played in their own league. The idea was quickly shot down.
Is Stan Kroenke A Good Owner?
The Rams are valued at $6.2 billion by Forbes, the No. 3 team in the NFL behind the Cowboys and Patriots. Arsenal is $2.05 billion.
Kroenke has been a success. He’s won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche and the Super Bowl with the Rams. Arsenal should win the title this year.
He’s not in the media spotlight a lot, and maybe that’s what irks fans, maybe we like the Jerry Jones thing. But Kroenke has been relatively controversy-free in his tenure – I’d advise him to stay out of St. Louis though. What fans really want from our owners is for him/her to sign the checks, give us quality teams and contend for championships. In that respect, Stan Kroenke is a winner.