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Bernie's interview with Kroenke

April 21, 2010 03:38AM
Here's Bernie's interview with him. Sounds like he does want to keep the team in STL!


Kroenke: Rams would stay here
Bernie Miklasz
Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

By Bernie Miklasz

If Stan Kroenke gains NFL approval in his quest to purchase the Rams, he vows to do everything he can to secure the team's long-term future in St. Louis.

In his first interview since announcing that he'd exercised an option to match businessman Shahid Khan's bid for the available 60 percent of the team, Kroenke broke his customary silence in an attempt to reassure Rams fans of his positive intentions.

"I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis," Kroenke said in a phone interview Tuesday night. "Just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves."

In the early 1990s, Kroenke became the lead investor in a St. Louis group that unsuccessfully pursued an NFL expansion franchise. But Kroenke later purchased 40 percent of the Rams from owner Georgia Frontiere as a precondition of the franchise's move from Los Angeles to St. Louis before the 1995 season.

"There's a track record," Kroenke said. "I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I'm stepping up one more time."

Kroenke, citing confidentiality agreements, declined to discuss his plan to persuade the NFL to accommodate his bid for the Rams. Because of current league guidelines, Kroenke must work around NFL rules that prohibiting cross-ownership. He may have a problem in gaining clearance from the NFL because of his ownership of NBA and NHL franchises in Denver. The Post-Dispatch recently reported that one potential solution is to have Kroenke sell the Denver sports franchises to his wife, Ann.

Again citing confidentiality agreements, Kroenke declined to discuss his dealings with Khan, who had hoped to have Kroenke stay on board as a 40 percent partner. A report in the Sports Business Journal claimed that Kroenke had asked Khan for "a mid- to high eight-figure fee" in return for allowing Khan to proceed with his attempted purchase of 60 percent of the Rams.

Since Kroenke decided to match Khan's bid, Kroenke's motives have come under scrutiny. For starters, Kroenke didn't express a commitment to St. Louis in the statement he issued to announce his decision to match. Then came a report that Kroenke was a member of an NFL committee that supervises potential new-stadium projects in Los Angeles, which is seeking an NFL franchise. Then came the Sports Business Journal report, which caused more commotion in St. Louis.

Kroenke is bothered by the perception that he'd work against St. Louis, or that he'd scheme to move the Rams back to Los Angeles. He pointed to a life spent largely inside Missouri borders, and his base in Columbia, Mo.

"I'm born and raised in Missouri," Kroenke said. "I've been a Missourian for 60 years. People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted. People know I am an honorable guy."

Kroenke mentioned that his mother-in-law, who is 86, attends every Rams home game as an enthusiastic fan. And she is accompanied to the games by her sister, who lives in the St. Louis area. Kroenke didn't finish the obvious point, but I'll finish it for him: Why would anyone believe he'd want to move the Rams away from beloved family members?

The Rams' lease at the Edward Jones Dome is in question. Unless the facility ranks among the top 25 percent of NFL facilities — which is virtually impossible — the Rams' lease would be nullified after the 2014 season. And the team would be free to move unless a new agreement can be reached.

Kroenke said, "I'll do my damnedest," to secure the Rams' future in St. Louis.

During our interview, Kroenke's passion was striking.

Kroenke doesn't speak out often — but in this instance, his words carried weight.

That said, Kroenke is a businessman. I don't use that as a pejorative term. I just don't believe Kroenke will be an easy touch in any stadium negotiations. The Rams need to improve their revenue flow at the facility to keep up with other NFL franchises. Kroenke may eventually drive a hard bargain. Still, it was encouraging to hear him speak so adamantly of his desire to find a way to make it work here.

Rams majority owner Chip Rosenbloom also ended his period of silence on the Rams' sale. In an interview Tuesday, Rosenbloom wouldn't discuss the sale process, but he emphasized that he likes Khan and Kroenke and considers them friends. And Rosenbloom believes that either man would be a good owner for St. Louis.

But Rosenbloom felt compelled to defend Kroenke on a personal level.

"There's no reason to believe that Stan would be anything less than committed to St. Louis," Rosenbloom said. "He was instrumental in securing the Rams franchise for St. Louis along with my mom (Frontiere) and (Rams adviser) John Shaw. Stan has been our partner since we came to St. Louis. He's been by our side for 15 years."

Pointing to Kroenke's roots, family and business interests in Missouri, Rosenbloom said he is puzzled by the backlash against Kroenke.

"All of it points to a good relationship with St. Louis," Rosenbloom said. "I don't know why anyone would believe otherwise."

Before the interview ended, Kroenke had one more item to address.

The Rams will have the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.

"I'm excited," Kroenke said. "I can't wait to see what we do."

Will the Rams draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford?

Kroenke offered no clues or hints on that. But he did convey support for the Rams' future in St. Louis, and at this stage that's even more important.

  Bernie's interview with Kroenke

brgjoe1756April 21, 2010 03:38AM

  Re: Bernie's interview with Kroenke

whowadat271April 21, 2010 04:55AM

  Glad to hear he's keeping the team in STL

brgjoe275April 21, 2010 05:06AM

  By no means is the thing over . . .

Sign_Man_124294April 21, 2010 10:56AM

  exactly, completely non-binding statement

aaram266April 21, 2010 01:22PM

  Well said, Signman...

JamesJM226April 21, 2010 03:48PM

  So basically the "Sky is Falling" articles are BS.

RockRam247April 21, 2010 07:18AM

  Re: So basically the "Sky is Falling" articles are BS.

bigjimram21264April 21, 2010 10:59AM

  the old "blame the media" card

aaram262April 21, 2010 01:29PM

  Well what else would he say?

BigGame81260April 21, 2010 09:33AM

  I think it means Rams stay at least to 2014

stlramz255April 21, 2010 10:33AM

  Re: I think it means Rams stay at least to 2014

bigjimram21221April 21, 2010 11:08AM

  Take the Man At His Word

caboose254April 21, 2010 10:54AM

  I believe Stan will build a stadium of his own

Sledrock255April 21, 2010 11:06AM

  I think you are right. nm.

stlramz221April 21, 2010 11:09AM

  That's what the Kraft's did in Boston . . .

Sign_Man_124323April 21, 2010 11:15AM

  Re: That's what the Kraft's did in Boston . . .

Sledrock248April 21, 2010 11:28AM

  Re: Take the Man At His Word

progRAMmer231April 21, 2010 03:21PM

  StanK FINALLY says something about STL

STLramdynasty248April 21, 2010 11:07AM

  One interesting sidebar.. .

RAMbeau261April 21, 2010 07:43PM


Rampage2K-277April 21, 2010 07:45PM