Stan Kroenke threatens to settle with St. Louis, and to leave his partners holding the billion-dollar bag

USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently said that Rams owner Stan Kroenke doesn’t “back away” from his obligations. On a related subject, Kroenke reportedly has threatened to back away from his obligations.

According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, Kroenke has threatened to cut his own deal with the St. Louis plaintiffs who are suing the NFL, forcing the rest of the league to face the music in January, when the lawsuit arising from the relocation of the Rams goes to trial. Per the report, Kroenke will do it unless the league promises to spread the final settlement or judgment.

The report comes in advance of a mediation session set for Tuesday, November 23. And it definitely complicates the process. The mediator, who normally would be trying to broker a deal between the plaintiffs and the defendants with no authority to make any actual decisions or ruling, will now have to get the defendants on the same page, too.

Kroenke is saying, essentially, that he reserves the right to cut his own deal with the St. Louis plaintiffs, and then to force the rest of the league to stand trial without him. It arguably makes little sense from the perspective of the plaintiffs. Although a payment from Kroenke could serve as a useful bird in the hand, the settlement would impact the dynamics of the remaining case. The league would aggressively argue, for example, that the St. Louis plaintiffs have gotten their justice from the man who moved the team. While other owners allegedly lied, cheated, and/or stole to facilitate the move, a settlement by the owner of the team that moved out of St. Louis goes a long way toward creating the impression that the case is, or should be, over.

Also, Kroenke can’t simply avoid his potential indemnity obligation to his partners by settling the case as to his team. Although the language of the indemnity agreement leaves much to be desired, the fight doesn’t evaporate if Kroenke settles. Thus, he could still end up responsible for the full settlement or judgment.

It’s now clear, however, that Kroenke is ready to fight his business partners. For example, the email from Kroenke’s representatives to the NFL reportedly argues that indemnification is not available for intentional torts and punitive damages. This suggests that Kroenke plans to sue over the indemnity provision, circumventing language that places the Commissioner in charge of determining the costs to be paid by Kroenke. Likewise, the argument seems more than a little confusing in this context; if Kroenke committed fraud along with other owners, how can Kroenke then say he’s not responsible for the full costs arising from the fraudulent activities?

Kroenke presumably will make every argument that he can. Although he moved the team and benefited from it, the other owners benefited, too. And if they didn’t want him to move to L.A., they shouldn’t have selected his team to make the move — especially if the internal rules suggested that the Rams should have remained in St. Louis.

31 responses to “Stan Kroenke threatens to settle with St. Louis, and to leave his partners holding the billion-dollar bag

  1. It probably also helps the NFL push the plaintiffs to settle for less as the plaintiffs likely don’t want to pursue fractured defendants.

  2. “Terrible person threatens to act terribly towards other terrible people.”

    It’s very easy for me to hope that they all lose: Kroenke, the other owners, Goodell – all of them. They’ve been holding cities hostage and then fleeing whenever there’s a more lucrative deal to be found for decades. It’d be nice to see it come back on all of them in this case.

  3. Owners defrauded St Louis… even though the city deliberately failed to fulfil their lease agreement?

    This must be the new math all the kids are talking about..

  4. Does the fan really care about this? Are St Louis fans going to share in any financial settlement or judgement…no. End of the day billionaires fighting over the billions they reap from the public, all while the public gets screwed. Who cares….stop paying to go to games, stop buying merch is the only way for them to feel it.

  5. Scottie Pimpin says:
    November 18, 2021 at 1:40 pm
    Does the fan really care about this? Are St Louis fans going to share in any financial settlement or judgement…no. End of the day billionaires fighting over the billions they reap from the public, all while the public gets screwed. Who cares….stop paying to go to games, stop buying merch is the only way for them to feel it.

    ——————————–

    It’s about entertainment. It’s entertaining to watch people get their feet held to the fire for being shady. I agree with you completely that it’s nonsense that cities pay sports leagues for sports stadiums, but until cities stop offering to pay we won’t see that go away. We may as well derive some joy in watching the aftermath of these moves.

  6. The OBJ, Stamford and Von signings( a dream team ) makes sense now . Stan hopes to fill his stadium to recoup lost revenue… or not !!

  7. Suppose Kroenke pays St Louis $200 mil plus 40 mil for their legal fees. They could still sue the NFL as a whole and say they have received 1/32 of the payment they seek. As a gesture of good will, they will let other teams off the hook for 100 mil if paid quickly.

    I doubt the other teams want to pay 100 mil each (or 3.1 billion collectively) but they’d be risking a lot if they continue to hold out with Kroenke presumably spilling the inside details in the case against the league.

  8. St Louis: We want 2 billion dollars
    NFL: Who wants an expansion team!
    San Diego: We do! We do!
    NFL: quiet, you

  9. At what point do the 30 other owners suspend him or fine him? I can’t see them letting him bully them. Stan took the NFL on joy ride at his new amusment park, bougth them lunch now wants them to pay to buy his way out of a bad deal.

  10. Art Modell, Jerry Jones, & Robert Kraft blocked expansion into St. Louis & Baltimore. In fact, the Patriots were at one time rumored to be moving to Jacksonville. Hmm, Jacksonville & Baltimore get teams via either relocation award or blockage of expansion….

    Funny how this stuff comes full circle. These selfish NFL owners don’t really give a darn about what cities or fanbases are affected by their actions. The NFL basically blackballed Al Davis, while allowing scum like Modell & Kroenke to do the same thing. Good ole boys club it is.

  11. @Bob806 You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I the mid 90’s James Orthwein (Anheuser Busch heir) owned the Patriots and was trying to move them to St. Louis to replace the Cardinals. But Bob Kraft owned the Foxboro Stadium and held an ironclad lease from the Patriots. He used that leverage to buy the Patriots from Orthwein and keep them in Foxboro.

    The Rams moved to St Louis after Kraft bought the Patriots. Jacksonville got an expansion team after Kraft bought the Patriots. Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore after Kraft bought the Patriots. He didn’t block anything. There were never rumors of the Patriots moving to Jacksonville. It was a total shock when Jacksonville was given an expansion team.

    On that note, don’t be surprised if the Jaguars end up moving to St. Louis. That would make St. Louis a two-time beneficiary of a city losing their team to move there; (3 times if you count the Chicago Cardinals moving there before eventually moving to Phoenix.) Baltimore did the same thing; cried when the Colts moved to Indianapolis but was glad to steal the Browns from Cleveland.

    So it’s all crocodile tears. I just hope that St. Louis takes the money instead of a team. It would benefit the city way more. And there are better cities for the NFL than that dying husk of a town.

  12. The settlement with the city of St. Louis is something all of the owners can easily afford. They just don’t like spending money. Tickets to Rams games are so hideously expensive that most fans can’t afford them. I would like to go to games, but I just can’t justify the expense. Kroenke can afford to pay it out his own pocket.

    I seriously doubt this will benefit the citizens of greater St. Louis. More than likely the money will be used to tear down the current stadium and build a new one. The citizens will be lucky if they don’t have to pay the remaining cost of the new stadium.

  13. Art Modell, Jerry Jones, & Robert Kraft blocked expansion into St. Louis & Baltimore. In fact, the Patriots were at one time rumored to be moving to Jacksonville. Hmm, Jacksonville & Baltimore get teams via either relocation award or blockage of expansion….

    Funny how this stuff comes full circle. These selfish NFL owners don’t really give a darn about what cities or fanbases are affected by their actions. The NFL basically blackballed Al Davis, while allowing scum like Modell & Kroenke to do the same thing. Good ole boys club it is.

    ————

    WRONG. My patriots almost moved to St Louis, as our previous owner James Orweithen was from there. MR. Kraft, owned Foxborough stadium and wouldn’t let the Patriots out of their lease, essentially taking the patriots in a hostile take over. People almost forget fellow Bostonian and Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie tried buying his childhood team, but Kraft outbid him, paying nearly 150 million for a terrible team.

    Modell moved the browns to Baltimore, and the NFL announced the browns name and team would return as an expansion in 1999. To watch the band rush couldn’t quit 30:30. The ravens/former colts fans, were SHOCKED when Jacksonville and Carolina were announced as expansion teams.

    I think it’s bush league all around. Billionaire owners screwing the public. My wife is a Chicagoan and I live there now, go see how stupid that situation will be. Talks about Arlington heights and rhe PSL situation is growing by the day.

  14. These old fart owners need to go away. Perhaps some of the new money dynamic people can buy some of the franchises. With a guys like Zukerberg they won’t need to beg public for money.

  15. The only winners here will be the lawyers raking in a ton of fees the longer this drags on.

  16. I don’t think that St. Louis will settle with Kroenke. Kroenke on his own is unable to offer an expansion team. Now if he offers enough money to get the Spanos family to move the Chargers to St. Louis, offers to pay for a new stadium in St. Louis, pays St. Louis attorney fees and agrees to pay an additional $1 billion dollars then St. Louis might listen.

    Kroenke might be the most hated person in St. Louis. I really don’t think that he will every come close to a settlement with St. Louis without the other 31 teams offering something that will make it worth it to St. Louis. We want a team, a new stadium and cash.

  17. @nflfan69 You might be on to something. The Chargers have not been accepted in LA and alienated the fans they did have in San Diego. 3/4 of their season ticket sales went to ticket brokers….75%-80% of the fans attending a Chargers game at SoFi are there to cheer the visiting team, essentially giving the Chargers 17 road games a year. Dean Spanos has only sold a fraction of the PSL’s he promised Stan and it is rumored that Spanos’ lawyer, Mark Fabiani, leaked data to St Louis to make this suit happen. Stan would probably like to get rid of Dean. But warning to St Louis….Dean Spanos makes Bill Bidwill look like Augie Busch. I lived in St Louis for 8 years and San Diego for 22 years. St Louis deserves better ownership.

  18. Settle?!?! He should counter-sue for twice the amount they are seeking from him, plus the value of the NFL franchise that they want to be awarded. St. Louis breached the contract and has no one to blame but themselves.

    If St. Louis would stop trying to steal teams from other markets, maybe they wouldn’t feel so burned with someone does the same to them.

    #StandwithStan

  19. bobhk says:
    November 18, 2021 at 4:21 pm
    These old fart owners need to go away. Perhaps some of the new money dynamic people can buy some of the franchises. With a guys like Zukerberg they won’t need to beg public for money.
    —————————————-
    Anyone wealthy enough to purchase an NFL team (especially now that their values have skyrocketed) will not be some benevolent force for good. Zuckerberg has proven that he is just as greedy and soulless as every other mega-wealthy person.

    Plus, what usually happens is that when an owner dies the team gets handed to his (elderly) wife or (well into middle age) kids. Big money gets handed from generation to generation and I think most of these ownership families recognize that NFL revenue only continues to grow – so it’s not about football at all, it’s about the investment.

  20. If expansion is going to be necessary to solve this issue, move to 36.

    NFC East- Philly, Washington, NYG, Dallas, Carolina, Atlanta
    NFC Central- GB, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, TB, St Louis*
    NFC West- Rams, Arizona, Seattle, SF, Mexico City*, New Orleans

    AFC East – NE, NYJ, Buffalo, London*, Miami, Baltimore
    AFC Central- Cincy, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Jax, Tennessee, Indy
    AFC West- Vegas, LAC, Denver, KC, San Diego*, Texans

    Not a fan of London in here but at this point it’s just going to happen. Conferences stay the same with minimum shuffling of divisions. 18 game season, 10 games in division, 5 in conference, 3 out. Special scheduling and consideration for London. 3 division winners and 5 wildcards make playoffs (yes, 8 teams will make the playoffs soon). It isn’t great but its the best I could do.

  21. Kroenke is pushing the NFL to get involved in putting together a package to settle the case. He’s doing everything he can to convince them they face financial exposures despite the indemnity agreement he signed. The plaintiffs would love to settle with Kroenke north of $500M and go after the remaining defendants. This guarantees them a win and everything else is icing on the cake. Goodell was the one saying publicly that St Louis had a chance to retain the Rams strictly following NFL guidelines and spending millions on a new stadium proposal while communicating behind the scenes that the move was a done deal. Jerry Jones has tested that he never followed the guidelines in negotiating the Rams move back to LA. That’s the fraud and the heat in this case and Kroenke’s settlement doesn’t take that heat out of the trial.
    Don’t forget, the league wants to expand by two teams and the expansion fees are estimated between $2.6B to $3B in found money for the current owners. This gives them room to settle and be fine. Also, no reason for them to offer a team to St Louis (who for reasons that should be obvious, don’t want one) because they can simply sell that expansion team and more than cover the cost of this settlement.
    This is how really big cases get settled.

  22. Bob806 says:
    November 18, 2021 at 2:33 pm
    Art Modell, Jerry Jones, & Robert Kraft blocked expansion into St. Louis & Baltimore. In fact, the Patriots were at one time rumored to be moving to Jacksonville. Hmm, Jacksonville & Baltimore get teams via either relocation award or blockage of expansion….

    Funny how this stuff comes full circle. These selfish NFL owners don’t really give a darn about what cities or fanbases are affected by their actions. The NFL basically blackballed Al Davis, while allowing scum like Modell & Kroenke to do the same thing. Good ole boys club it is.

    ——

    You’re wrong on a few counts.

    #1. The Patriots all but moved to St. Louis, the agreement was so far in the making that they installed red seats in the then Transworld Dome.

    #2. Jacksonville was awarded an expansion team ultimately because the Redskins didn’t want a team in Baltimore, there were issues with an old and new ownership group in the St. Louis bid, Memphis was never a serious contender, and San Antonio, dispute building a new stadium, was deemed too small (at the time) and had to deal with King Jerry Jones. Jacksonville actually backed into the final expansion team as their ownership group folded months before the expansion was awarded and was pulled back together at the urging of them Commish Paul Tagliabue.

    Folks, one final thing. Shad Khan is fully invested in the Jacksonville community. He’s spending his own money to renovate the stadium, he’s building the riverfront, he’s building hotels, and other entertainment venues.

    Does that sound like a guy that’s going to rip the team out of the city? At the end of the day, NFL franchises make more in television revenue than they spend in payroll and expenses.

  23. The teams in every sport should be owned by the city’s where they pay taxes. Who needs owners?

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