Kroenke Takes St. Louis Rams

Stan Kroenke, a fixture in the Denver sports world, will turn over control of his two major league teams in that city to his son thanks to the National Football League’s approval of his purchase of a majority share in the St. Louis Rams Aug. 25.

The league prohibits cross-ownership, and Kroenke currently is the owner of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and the pro lacrosse Mammoth, in addition to being the largest shareholder of the Arsenal soccer team of the English Premier League.

The Missouri native is also the owner of Denver’s Pepsi Center and launched Altitude Sports & Entertainment television network as the regional TV home of the Nuggets, Avalanche and Mammoth.

The NFL unanimously approved Kroenke’s proposal to take over as majority owner of the Rams on the condition that he gives up his majority stakes in other teams by Dec. 2014.

“Obviously, all of us know and respect Stan,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He’s been a terrific owner in the NFL and we’re confident he will continue to be a great owner.”

The Rams’ brother-sister ownership team of Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez inherited the Rams from the late Georgia Frontiere, who moved the team from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1994.

The Rams have fallen on hard times in recent years. Crowds have thinned considerably at the 15-year-old Edward Jones Dome, leading to speculation that St. Louis could lose its NFL team for the second time. The St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1987, and the NFL has made no secret that it would like to get a franchise back in Los Angeles.

Kroenke did not rule out a move and said he has no “desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis,” but adds, “now, the realistic part of that … I live to be competitive. To be competitive, you have to have revenue.”

An eventual move back to L.A. could prove tempting. The nation’s second-largest market has been without an NFL team since 1994, when the Rams and the Raiders both left town. There is one new stadium proposal on the drawing board for the City of Industry, and an idea for another being floated for downtown L.A. by AEG.

For either stadium to go forward, it would be preferable to have a football team tenant to go with it.

While some observers believe Kroenke’s ownership of the Rams makes it less likely the team would leave the city, Kroenke and AEG principal Philip Anschutz have a strong relationship in Denver. Others have questioned whether Kroenke’s interest in the Rams could benefit an AEG stadium pitch by creating the possibility of a return of the team to L.A.