Owning a professional sports team is never easy.
It takes a lot of money, a lot of responsibility, and you have to be able to take a lot of heat if things go wrong.
Some owners are held in high regard, such as Mark Cuban and Shahid Khan. Others, such as Jerry Jones and Mike Brown, are not.
And then there’s Stan Kroenke… the sniveling, sneaky, devilish antagonist that fits the vilified owner profile to a tee.
He had purchased a minority stake in the St. Louis Rams when they arrived in the Gateway City in 1995. The late Georgia Frontiere had intended on keeping the Rams in St. Louis when they left the “City of Angels” following the 1994 season.
Frontiere was the pioneer of women in professional sports ownership. She inherited ownership of the Los Angeles Rams in 1979 from her husband Carroll Rosenbloom. And in 1995, she became widely vilified in Los Angeles when she made the decision to move the franchise to her hometown of St. Louis.
That’s right, Frontiere was a St. Louis faithful.
The NFL and St. Louis have definitely had a… let’s face it, terrible relationship since 1987. Maybe even before that. When the “Big Red” Cardinals were in St. Louis, the late Bill Bidwell ran the team cheaply, hardly signing big time stars, and even though the team had their fair share of Hall of Famers, highlights, and memories, a winning record in St. Louis wasn’t one of them.
Following a controversial stadium issue in which Bidwell wanted a new stadium to be built in Maryland Heights (a city about 20 minutes away from downtown St. Louis, whereas the Cardinals shared Busch Stadium with the baseball Cardinals), the Cardinals moved to Phoenix, where they remain to this day.
Now, as for the Rams, they struggled for their first four years, and then surprised the world when they won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999 behind the “Greatest Show on Turf”. From 1999-2003, they were one of the most fun sports teams to watch. But injuries to stars such as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Orlando Pace, and the sudden firing of coach Mike Martz were signs of the struggles that laid ahead.
Even with stars such as Steven Jackson and Torry Holt, the team continued to be at the cellar of the NFL.
And in 2008, Frontiere tragically passed away at the age of 80 after suffering from breast cancer.
Since then, it’s been one long plot by Kroenke to get the Rams back to Los Angeles.
As the team continued to struggle, Kroenke did little to try and help improve the team in an effort to curtail attendance. Despite franchise hopefuls like Marc Bugler, Sam Bradford, Chris Long, and Aaron Donald, the Rams never posted a winning record from 2004-2015. There was talent, fan loyalty, and a love for football.
But unfortunately, at the center of it all, was Kroenke, pulling strings to get the team to move out.
And in 2016, with a 30-2 team vote, it was announced the Rams would leave St. Louis and go back to Los Angeles.
Interestingly enough… one of the teams to vote against the move was the Arizona Cardinals… led by the Bidwell family. Sort of like a last-ditch effort to make it up to St. Louis as best as they could. Their hearts were in the right place, but in the end, greed won.
It seemed as though Kroenke won and had the last laugh.
Not so fast, however.
St. Louis HAD planned to build a new stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis, met all the demands, and then some, and yet still Kroenke had the gall to move the team anyway. Owners like Jones especially pushed for the move, seeing it as a money-making opportunity at its finest.
Recently, while St. Louis has been battling Kroenke and the NFL in a series of lawsuits (all won by St. Louis) regarding the team’s move, 101 ESPN’S Randy Karraker revealed a startling discovery…. secret phone calls.
Kroenke had told, per Karraker, in the calls that: “I’m going to buy 2 parcels of land and build a stadium in L.A.” Says we’re trying very hard to stay under the radar screen and keep it hidden.” Commissioner Roger Goodell replied: “We will respect your confidentiality.”
This is basically an ever-evolving story because there’s more details that come out day after day about the lies, greed, and selfishness of the Columbia, MO native.