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Although nobody can ever be totally sure about exactly what Stan Kroenke has in mind for the Rams after officially becoming the seventh majority owner in the team's 73-year history Wednesday morning, the reaction in St. Louis appears to be overwhelmingly positive.
Such was not the case this past April, when the low-key, often-elusive Columbia, Mo.-based billionaire generated major shock waves in St. Louis and beyond with his decision to exercise his right of first refusal on a bid to buy the Rams by Urbana, Ill.-based auto parts manufacturer Shahid Khan.
It wasn't long before rumors started sprouting that Kroenke, who already owned 40 percent of the team, could be thinking about moving the Rams back to Los Angeles. Eventually, though, Kroenke went public with his intention to keep the Rams firmly entrenched in St. Louis.
"We are delighted with today's vote by NFL owners. It is one of the very high points of our long association with the NFL," Kroenke said. "We look forward to working with our fellow owners and Commissioner (Roger) Goodell as the transaction is finalized and in the years ahead.
"The Rosenbloom family deserves our thanks for all their efforts on behalf of a great football organization and a great city.
"Building organizations that win consistently is a challenge that we understand. We are excited about the opportunity as principal owner of the St. Louis Rams."
The PFW spin
If Kroenke stays true to his normally low-key form, it's likely he won't start making his presence felt in a big way as the Rams' new majority owner. That said, team insiders suspect that Kroenke's chief lieutenants with the Rams — general manager Billy Devaney and executive vice president of football operations/chief operating officer Kevin Demoff — will begin operating with a greater sense of urgency moving forward.
One big thing worth wondering about is just how quickly Kroenke's extremely deep pockets might come into play in terms of acquiring possible talent in the coming weeks and months for a team that continues to have sizable holes on both sides of the ball.
Beyond that, there is the question of how quickly either new digs for the Rams or a dramatically improved Edward Jones Dome will become a reality with the well-heeled Kroenke calling the shots.
The consensus seems to be that if the league had decided not to approve Kroenke — who had to make yet-to-be-disclosed concessions to abide by the NFL's cross-ownership guidelines — the Rams' future in St. Louis would have been in grave danger. Seventeen years ago, Kroenke was the lead investor of a St. Louis expansion team group but was beat out when franchises were awarded to Jacksonville and Carolina.
With Kroenke saying all the right things, though, and a buzz for the team building around first-round QB Sam Bradford, the new face of the franchise, optimism seems to be the order of the day in the Gateway City halfway through the preseason.
Kroenke's extremely successful track record as a majority owner of other professional sports teams is the biggest reason why.
The National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche have been to the playoffs for all but two years since Kroneke bought the team in 2000 and has won one Stanley Cup under his direction. In Kroenke's 10 seasons as the owner of the National Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets, the team has won three division titles and made seven playoff trips.
The Pepsi Center in Denver, also owned by Kroenke, hosted the 2001 NHL All-Star game and the 2005 NBA All-Star game. This facility also played host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
In addition to the Avalance and Nuggets, Kroenke also owns the Colorado Rapids (MLS) and the Colorado Mammoth (NLL) and is the largest shareholder of Arsenal FC of the English Premier League.
Kroenke's extensive business interests include serving as chairman and owner of The Kroenke Group, a private real estate investment and development company with offices throughout the United States and Canada. Kroenke is one of the nation's leading developers of shopping centers and commercial real estate.
"Stan has been a familiar and respected figure in the National Football League for more than 15 years," Goodell said. "He is a proven businessman and has experienced success in all of his sports franchises, as well as serving as a responsible community leader. We look forward to him continuing to uphold the goals and values of the NFL as he becomes the majority owner of the St. Louis Rams."
So what's the next big development in St. Louis going to be? The guess here is that Kroenke will exert his considerable influence and expedite the announcement that Bradford will be the Rams' undisputed No. 1 QB by Week One of the regular season.
There are few businessmen any smarter than Kroenke, and you know he has to realize that Bradford could be the Rams' biggest asset.
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