For the past three years, St. Louis has been left in the dark about the future of the Rams. But at least we got one definitive answer on Monday.
Stan Kroenke wants to be in Los Angeles.
That much was made clear on Monday morning when Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times wrote about how a development group that includes a company controlled by Kroenke plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs. The plan is that the site could become home for an NFL team, most likely the Rams.
It’s more than apparent that Kroenke doesn’t care about keeping the Rams in St. Louis. His top priority isn’t just procuring a new stadium. It’s about the stadium, the parking, the dining and everything else to create a world-class sports and entertainment district in Hollywood Park. Forget building an open-air stadium north of Laclede’s Landing, Kroenke wants to build his very own “Jerry’s World” akin to what Jerry Jones has constructed in Dallas.
Kroenke wants a team in L.A. and ostensibly doesn’t mind being a villain here in St. Louis, because within a year he could be the hero that brought football back to the city that has been used purely as leverage by the NFL for two decades. So be it. Now we know.
What we don’t know, however, is whether or not the NFL will ignore its own guidelines when it comes to relocation. We don’t know if Gov. Jay Nixon’s two-man task force of former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock and local attorney Bob Blitz will put together a plan intriguing enough to convince the NFL that St. Louis is, and should remain, an NFL city.
We also don’t know if Kroenke will receive the 24 votes needed from other owners to approve the move to Los Angeles. In fact, this is the question that intrigues me the most. Kroenke may want to build his very own “Jerry’s World” in L.A. but can he convince 24 other owners that he’s a true ambassador for the NFL like Jones is in Dallas? After all, this is the man who hasn’t spoken to the media since the hiring of Jeff Fisher. Do at least 24 owners want him to be the face of one of the most profitable franchises in the league? Not if you believe some of the reports coming out of San Diego centered on the thoughts of Chargers owner Dean Spanos.
Here’s another question to ponder: How pleased can some owners be that Kroenke is willing to foot the bill for this project in L.A. without help from taxpayers? If you’re an owner hoping to have public support when it comes to eventually funding a new stadium in your city, how fired up are you that Kroenke is about to set the precedent that billionaires should purchase their own sports playgrounds? Not very, I would imagine.
But maybe the NFL’s eyes are too big for its stomach. Maybe the league wants to cash in on the L.A. market so badly that it’s willing to put up with Kroenke because he can deliver a solution in a neat, tidy package. Maybe 24 owners can look past Kroenke’s aloofness because, in the end, he’s going to create even more dollars for a league with a seemingly endless supply of money.
These are the answers that we just don’t have yet. What we do know is that if St. Louis is serious about staying an NFL city, Blitz and Peacock better bring their A-game when they present their plan in the upcoming week.
We know St. Louis can’t match what Kroenke is ready to hand L.A. Mayor Francis Slay has said as much. But if Nixon meant what he said in that St. Louis is an “NFL city,” then now is the time to prove it.
We know Kroenke wants to be in L.A. What we don’t know is what the NFL, the rest of the owners and the city of St. Louis is prepared to do about it.