Should we really have expected anything different from an organization that was once owned by a former showgirl? We should have all expected some more drama in the Rams sale before there was a final owner and tonight it happened. Minority owner Stan Kroenke has elected to purchase the 60% share held by the Rosenbloom family and now the ball is back in the NFL’s court. Two owners, one team. Two men enter one man leaves. The ultimate boardroom drama for a franchise that has been nothing but drama since moving to St. Louis.
The move by Kroenke is nothing less then shocking. It is the ultimate tough shrewd business move. Kroenke is forcing the NFL’s hand by saying that the cross ownership rule should not apply to him and he has every right to own an NFL franchise despite his other business interests (i.e Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets). From a business perspective the move by Stan Kroenke tells me one of two things.
The first is that he thinks he has enough votes from the NFL owners to waive the cross-ownership rule for him. Kroenke has had the past two months to have conversations with other owners and reportedly has good relationships with a number of them. He wouldn’t put himself against the league if he didn’t know he was going to win. If that isn’t the case then it sets up a totally different scenario.
The second option would be that Kroenke is making a business move and is wanting to get paid. Let’s say that Kroenke thinks the Khan bid on the 60% is too low. He has two options at this point. He could say that what Khan is getting is a great deal so I will put more money into this and realize a greater return on my investment in the Rams. The other option is that Khan is getting a great deal and Kroenke wants to play a game of holding the NFL hostage for some more money for his 40%. I can’t believe that the NFL would be interested, in the midst of trying to negotiate a new contract, in getting in a nasty court dispute over cross ownership. I don’t know if they would win but I do know that they would not want to get in front of a jury or judge to make that decision. Stan Kroenke knows this too.
At this point everyone is playing nice publicly. Shahid Khan issued a statement saying that he still admires Stan and will let the NFL figure it out. The Rosenblooms also laid the issue at the feet of the NFL saying that they will continue to move forward with the sale. For the Rosenblooms this all but guarantees that they will be out of the NFL ownership game by the end of 2010. The team will be in Khan’s or Kroenke’s possession by the end of the year, so for them this is a win-win.
What will the NFL do? My thinking is that Kroenke has lobbied for the votes and has them in his back pocket. One thing I do know about very powerful men and women, they don’t like to be embarrassed publicly. Kroenke would not open himself to that potential if he didn’t feel pretty good about this decision. That being said he is also a powerful businessman and did not become rich without playing a little hardball every once in awhile over a business deal. Roger Goodell has a very tough decision to make.
The Rams have had a quarterback essentially walk out of a grocery store to lead them to a Super Bowl. They have had a head coach publicly feud with a quarterback’s wife. They have had employees call people in the media and threaten them. They have had a starting quarterback stay home because his dog was sick. They have had a star running pick show up to a game with a hangover. The Rams always have something bizarre going on and a sale couldn’t be complete without something coming out of left field. Stan Kroenke fired a big shot tonight. Things just got real interesting.
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