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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Will Kroenke make a sweetheart deal?

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/18/2010

    Stan Kroenke's attempt to finesse the NFL cross-ownership rules may not involve a transfer of hockey and basketball teams in Denver to his family. But rather a sale — to his wife, Ann.

    According to a couple of league sources that tactic could be Kroenke's best hope of getting the NFL to approve his attempt to purchase the 60 percent of the Rams currently up for sale by siblings Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

    As wealthy as Kroenke is, he comes in second place at home. At $2.9 billion, he was ranked No. 342 on Forbes' most recent annual list of world billionaires. His wife, Ann, heiress to much of the Wal-Mart fortune, was ranked No. 297 at $3.2 billion.

    So what happens if Ann Walton Kroenke "simply" writes a check for the Denver Nuggets NBA team and the Colorado Avalanche NHL team? How does the NFL react to that?

    "Independent wealth means a lot," one league source said.

    And that's what Ann Walton Kroenke has.

    So at face value, that option might be more palatable to league owners than having Kroenke simply transfer ownership of the Nuggets or Avalanche to some combination of his wife, his son, Josh, or daughter, Whitney.

    When asked if that would be an acceptable path, NFL senior vice president Greg Aiello replied: "I can't answer that question. It's not my question to answer. That's something that has to be decided by NFL ownership. And right now, they can't answer that because they don't know what he's proposing."

    Even those close to Kroenke believe Kroenke has yet to decide on a precise path to finesse the cross-ownership rules.

    But one avenue seems definitely closed: selling the Denver teams to an outsider. Whether it's sports properties or other business properties, Kroenke's history has been as a buyer and a keeper — not a seller of assets. And because he also owns the building the Nuggets and Avalanche play in — the Pepsi Center — it has proved to be a profitable setup.

    If Kroenke sold the Nuggets and Avalanche to his wife, it appears he could maintain ownership of the Pepsi Center. There's nothing in the NFL's cross-ownership rules that would prevent him from keeping the venue. So that would make the purchase cheaper for his wife.

    In 2000, just a few months after the St. Louis Rams defeated Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV, Kroenke purchased 93.5 percent of the Avalanche, Nuggets and Pepsi Center. The overall value of those assets at the time was $450 million.

    It is a violation of the NFL's cross-ownership rules for Kroenke to own the Nuggets and Avalanche once he has controlling interest in the Rams. Kroenke already owns 40 percent of the Rams; he will own the full 100 percent of the team if he's successful in his bid to buy Rosenbloom's and Rodriguez's 60 percent.

    Several days ago, Aiello let it be known that Kroenke was not asking the league to waive its cross-ownership rules. At the time, it seemed like Aiello was simply responding to part of Kroenke's statement made Monday in announcing his intention to match Shahid Khan's bid to buy the Rosenbloom-Rodriguez 60 percent.

    But Aiello later confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that Kroenke had made this known to the league prior to Monday's surprise.

    "He's previously advised us that he would not request a waiver of the cross-ownership policy and would respect league rules," Aiello said. "We have no reason to believe at this point that he would change his position."

    But short of selling the Nuggets or Avalanche to an outsider, a successful conclusion for Kroenke will require a bit of "suspended belief" by league owners. Why? Because any transfer or sale to family members still in essence keeps the Nuggets and Avalanche in his home. If not technically violating the cross-ownership rules, some NFL team owners might think it violates the spirit of the rule.

    So as one league source said, this will be a negotiation between Kroenke and the NFL.

    "It comes down to if the league wants to help Stan find a path," the source said.

    Particularly, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, whose market would be most affected — next to St. Louis — by Kroenke's Rams purchase attempt.

    It's true that Bowlen and Kroenke have partnered on some smaller-dollar sports teams in the past — major-league lacrosse and Arena League football. But on a much bigger financial stage, Bowlen was part of a group that was outbid by Kroenke in 2000 for the Nuggets, Avalanche and Pepsi Center.

    According to newspaper reports at the time, Bowlen and members of his group weren't happy about the bidding process, suggesting that Kroenke got preferential treatment to close the deal quickly.

    Bowlen remains one of the NFL's most influential owners. Although he has declined comment publicly on the matter, his feelings on the entire Kroenke/cross-ownership issue could be critical over the next several months.


  2. #2
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Will Kroenke make a sweetheart deal?

    Other than mere spite or ego, can anyone explain why Bowlen would try and nix Stan's buying the Rams? Just exactly what is the "cross ownership" rule protecting - especially in this day and age where most games are viewed on tv anyway. Perhaps GC, Av or Nick might weigh in on this one for those of us who need some clarification on this issue ...

  3. #3
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Will Kroenke make a sweetheart deal?

    i don`t understand the cross ownership rule either..seems to me that it must be written somewhere that the NFL has to have X amount of rules in place and the majority of rules are created just so that number is met.
    it also seems to be un-american and a tad "commie" to prevent individuals to spend their money however they wish.

  4. #4
    gap's Avatar
    gap
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    Re: Will Kroenke make a sweetheart deal?

    Because of Revenue Sharing (most money generated by NFL teams goes into a pot, and then divided 33 ways {32 teams and the league office}). If Stan spent some of his NFL money to advertise a Nuggets or Avalance game that conflicts with a donkey's game, Bowlen would be in affect competing against himself for marketing dollars.


    gap

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