David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a great job of trying to track down Rams owner Stan Kroenke during the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix last week, and wrote about his week in Sunday’s paper. But as has been the case for five years now, Stan preferred to say nothing of substance to the St. Louis media.
A man in perhaps America’s most public business (Super Bowl XLIX in February was the most watched show is U.S. television history) appears to get genuine pleasure out of taunting the media, and by extension his fans.
What was particularly galling in Hunn’s story was that Kroenke seems to be using Rams COO Kevin Demoff as a tool in his efforts to antagonize.
As Hunn wrote, when the media spotted Kroenke “a throng of reporters chased him down the Biltmore hallways. Rams operations chief Kevin Demoff flanked his left. “We’ve got to run,” Demoff told them. “I’m sorry.”
Hunn went on to quote multiple other NFL owners about a possible Rams move, but not Kroenke.
I feel secure in saying I will never interview Stan Kroenke. But, here is the initial group of questions I think I’d have for him.
1) Why do you feel the need to have yourself shielded by Kevin Demoff, your body guards, and your public relations subordinates, from the media? You’re a grown man. The media is the conduit to your customers. The last time you said anything substantive to your fans through the St. Louis media was in 2010, when you talked to Bernie Miklasz after your purchase of the franchise was consummated.
Is it not a tenet of business to communicate with your customers? How has it benefited your franchise in St. Louis to not communicate with your fan base?
2) If the issue is that St. Louis is a failed market and you are simply trying to make your franchise viable, why wouldn’t you have attempted to see what the St. Louis market had to offer? Aside from a 2013 arbitration process that we all knew the ultimate result of, there’s been no communication with St. Louis or Missouri interests. We all knew that the St. Louis CVC didn’t have the money raising wherewithal to finance the $700 million in upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome.
How did you try to enhance the market? Was there any offer made to assist St. Louis financially in improving the Dome to your specifications?
3) Along those lines, word is that you’re upset that Missouri and St. Louis didn’t act quickly enough in offering you a new stadium. As has been noted, you haven’t wished to communicate with the people that could have helped you. And you certainly never asked for help. We know you’re in the business of building shopping centers, and frequently use TIF (tax increment financing). In fact, TIF is part of your plan in Inglewood. How many times have you built a development and gotten government financing without asking for it?
How often has a municipality come to THF real estate or The Kroenke Group, your two main development companies, and said “Stan, we figure you want to build in our area, and we want to give you tax money to help out.”?
I’m guessing never. Why is this different? Why would you not make a reasonable, public/private request after the arbitration result was revealed?
4) If the St. Louis market is too challenging economically, why did you exercise your right of first refusal when Shad Khan made his offer in 2010? You knew the market as well as anyone, having been a minority owner in St. Louis since 1995. Stadium situation aside, the market is better now than it was in 2010. As we saw last week in Forbes, the Cardinals are the most profitable team in MLB. If you compete, the dollars are there in St. Louis.
The NFL is currently conducting a market study, but you had prior access. If you truly wanted to abide by the rules and, as you said to Bernie, “attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis, just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995,” and didn’t just decide to move the franchise in the last two years, you should have been aware of any challenges that the St. Louis market presented.
So why did you buy controlling interest in the team despite those challenges?
5) The NFL relocation guidelines Section A, rule one state “Because League policy favors stable team-community relations, clubs are obligated to work diligently and in good faith to obtain and to maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories, and to operate in a manner that maximizes fan support in their current home community.”
Which of those has your franchise met?
You certainly haven’t personally worked to foster stable team-community relations. You haven’t worked in good faith on a stadium plan. And as has been pointed out, your extreme personal actions have alienated the fan base and threatened to poison St. Louis as an NFL market. An owner that wanted to “maximize fan support” would communicate, in some way, shape, form or manner, with said fans.
6) You said to Bernie in 2010 that “I believe my actions speak for themselves,” and five years later that’s certainly the case. How do you think St. Louis football fans should view your actions?
That would be a start. Not that it’ll mean anything to the steamrolling Rams owner, but it would be interesting to hear some answers.