When Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke exercised his right to purchase 60 percent of the franchise to go with the 40 percent he already owns, it was believed that Kroenke would sell the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets to a member of his family (presumably his billionaire wife), so that Kroenke could then own the Rams.
As it turns out, Kroenke wants his wife to own the Rams.
According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, Kroenke made the request last week at a meeting of the league’s finance committee. Kroenke’s proposal included other possibilities, the details of which have not been reported.
The problem, in our view, is whether the league would allow majority ownership of the team to pass through Kroenke to Ann Walton Kroenke. It’s the only way to circumvent the effort of Shahid Khan to purchase from the children of Georgia Frontiere controlling interest in the franchise — but it necessarily would skirt the cross-ownership rules, since Kroenke would own (even if only for an instant) the Rams at a time when he owns two other pro sports teams in the Denver market.
As the league explained in 2003 when the Glazer family wanted to add the L.A. Dodgers to a portfolio that includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the key moving forward will be complete separation of management. Still, before Ann Walton Kroenke can own the Rams, Stan Kroenke will have to own 100 percent of it.
In our view, the league should reject this approach. If Ann Walton Kroenke wanted to own 60 percent of the Rams, she should have submitted a bid. But with Shahid Khan also submitting a bid, a bidding war could have erupted, forcing the price of the 60-percent chunk even higher. So Stan Kroenke opted instead to remain silent, and he then chose to exercise his contractual right to match the offer made by Khan.
But Kroenke, not his wife, holds that right. It therefore would be unfair to Khan — and to Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez — to allow Kroenke to blur the lines temporarily in the hopes of shifting the team into his wife’s control. The procedure also will feed suspicions that it’s all a sham, and that Stan Kroenke essentially will be calling the shots, at a minimum via pillow talk.
Thus, the fact that Kroenke has proposed ownership of the Rams by his wife makes us think that the better approach for the NFL will be to block Kroenke’s from buying the Rams unless and until he sells the Avalanche and the Nuggets to someone to whom he’s not related by blood or marriage.