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Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

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  • Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell

    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/20/2010

    I know big business is supposed to be a rough-and-tumble contact sport, but wow, does it have to be like this?

    Every day as the Rams' sale process moves along and as the mysterious billionaire Stan Kroenke continues to drop people's jaws and raise their blood pressure with one strategic move after another my mind races to guess what sort of end game might lie ahead.

    If Kroenke continues to prove to be this unpredictable (did someone say "diabolical?") as a potential buyer, how nervous should that make us if he actually ends up assuming full control of St. Louis' NFL franchise?

    As far as I can tell, what we have learned about Kroenke is that every move he makes is straight out of a Machiavellian playbook. From his cunning 11th hour maneuver to gain complete financial control of the franchise, to this latest reported strategy to seek an eight-figure "compensation" from would-be buyer Shahid Khan to step out of the buying process, his actions reek of cold-blooded duplicity.


    According to the Sports Business Journal, it turns out Kroenke may not want to buy the Rams. He just wants to maximize the value of his existing 40 percent share of the team by gumming up Khan's attempt to buy the team.

    On Wall Street, there's a not-so-polite term for such tactics: "greenmail."

    But in St. Louis, the word "blackmail" would work just as well, because what else would you call it when someone basically tells you to just pay him to stop being a nuisance?

    Every maneuver the minority owner makes feels more duplicitous than the next. I know he's not doing anything his original purchase agreement doesn't allow. But the more you see how cutthroat Kroenke's business strategies are, the more urgent it seems to me that Khan ultimately finds the economic wherewithal and additional investors to make Kroenke go away.

    I have no idea what sort of owner Khan might become. But I do know that he has St. Louis' best interests at heart. He wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis and would not turn the tenuous lease situation into a devilish ploy at the negotiating table. No matter how contentious those negotiations end up as the city tries to find a creative way to satisfy the Rams' lease and drastically improve the amenities at the Edward Jones Dome Khan's goal is to keep the team in St. Louis.

    No one can assume what Kroenke's ultimate goal is except that it will end up benefiting Kroenke. He has shown in the short span of a few weeks that he will use any ruthless strategy to maximize his bottom line.

    If you don't think that means using our city's economic weakness as a way of doing a double-turn back to Los Angeles, you're sadly underestimating Kroenke's ability in the art of the (double) deal.

    Kroenke has already clearly and dramatically demonstrated that he cares about two things himself and his money.

    Everything else is negotiable.

    I'll give Kroenke credit for this: In a severely depressed economy, he is finding a way to "maximize" the value of his share of an NFL franchise. He has played this thing out with ruthless skill. He has leveraged everything at his disposal, and now he's just sitting back and waiting to see if, or when, Khan will blink.

    Everything about Kroenke's past indicates he isn't afraid to do the unpopular thing if it makes him more money. Is this the guy St. Louis wants owning controlling interest in its NFL franchise?

    I have now seen more than enough to know that I don't trust him as far as I can fling a penny off the thumb of a boxing glove.

    So now what it all comes down to is this: Are there any other local businessmen and local politicians, who care as much as Shahid Khan does about keeping St. Louis an NFL city indefinitely?

    If Khan is shopping for additional investors, this should not be that difficult a process. I would suspect that investors would line up for the privilege. It might be distasteful to buckle under to Kroenke's demands, but consider the alternatives.

    And just as soon as Khan and his new investors do get their stuff together, the people who wind up in control of the negotiations that could reshape the sorry stadium lease need to get their act together.

    For a change, wouldn't it be nice if these folks stopped doing what too often our local pols have been famous for reacting to a crisis way too late rather than being proactive to prevent another major asset of the community from bolting far, far away?

  • #2
    Re: Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

    I grew up in an era that I thought these things would never happen:

    1. The Baltimore Colts would leave Baltimore.
    2. The Los Angeles Rams would never leave LA
    3. The Oakland Raiders would never leave Oakland.

    All three happened. I wouldn't doubt it one bit Kroenke has his eyes on LA. And who would blame him?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

      Burwell just does not get it. The right of first refusal is a valuable commodity, and it can be sold by its owner. That is what Kroenke did (allegedly) - he offered to sell that right to Khan. That's not blackmail. The word you are looking for, Brian, is capitalism. If you are not a fan of capitalism, I'm sure the Havana Post-Dispatch would love to make you their baseball columnist.

      Whatever Kroenke's plans are, two things are certain:

      1. He does not like to publicize his plans; and
      2. The media hates fact #1.

      Prepare for many months of rampant speculation.
      Last edited by AvengerRam_old; -04-20-2010, 05:50 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

        "...I have no idea what sort of owner Khan might become. But I do know that he has St. Louis' best interests at heart. He wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis and would not turn the tenuous lease situation into a devilish ploy at the negotiating table. No matter how contentious those negotiations end up as the city tries to find a creative way to satisfy the Rams' lease and drastically improve the amenities at the Edward Jones Dome Khan's goal is to keep the team in St. Louis.
        ..."

        So, Mr. Burwell is either Mr. Khan's BFF, or he's psychic. I did not know this before. And the "devilish ploy? Oh.. you mean the one that almost every other team in the NFL uses? You mean the same devilish ploy that brought the Rams to STL in the first place? That devilish ploy?

        "...No one can assume what Kroenke's ultimate goal is except that it will end up benefiting Kroenke. He has shown in the short span of a few weeks that he will use any ruthless strategy to maximize his bottom line..."


        I think that's what most business owners are looking for. Am I missing something?

        "...Kroenke has already clearly and dramatically demonstrated that he cares about two things himself and his money..."

        Hello?!? It's a for-profit business, not a non-profit organization.

        "...Everything about Kroenke's past indicates he isn't afraid to do the unpopular thing if it makes him more money..."

        So, name me one successful business owner, heck, even a successful business manager that isn't capable/unafraid to do what's unpopular in the name of improving the business/bottomline.

        "...If Khan is shopping for additional investors, this should not be that difficult a process. I would suspect that investors would line up for the privilege. It might be distasteful to buckle under to Kroenke's demands, but consider the alternatives..."

        So, what makes you think that Khan won't use the same "devilish tactics" to get new stadium? If he adds other investors, what makes you think he won't be pressured to move the team to a more profitable location if it is available? Khan is also a successful businessman. He's not going to run the team to lose money just so the city of St Louis can have an NFL franchise (and with limited funds, a mediocre franchise).

        WAKE UP Burwell, this is big business in the real world.
        That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

          I probably should have assumed Burwell was an anti-capitalist. How unfortunate for the "man of the people".
          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams minority owner is not to be trusted ..

            When business moves are not known by the media, articles like this are basically 'expected'. Stan Kroenke is not a dumb man, and to even counter Burwells question of should we trust him, I say if hes as good a business man as he seems what would make us not WANT him to be the teams owner? The article seems most emotional than anything. I really cant say I know how St. Louis fans feel about the whole situation, my guess is they cant stand it. Fortunately for many of us outside of St. Louis, as well as within, we will remain fans regardless if the team should move or not. Business is not meant to be pretty, the sooner these guys realize it the less they will be shocked at Kroenks next "diabolical" move.

            Comment

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