You thought Stan Kroenke wanted a team in Los Angeles? I don’t think so. I think Stan is playing a long con. And I think it’s a brilliant strategy.
Los Angeles is a terrible market for football teams, but it’s a fantastic market for the NFL. It would be a perfect place to build a permanent home for the Super Bowl. Los Angeles has fantastic weather, great attractions, and a huge pool of football fans, fans of every team in the NFL. Except the Rams.
And you might think I’m crazy, but you’ll want to bookmark this post for later reference. It could make you look very smart some day.
Let’s look at what we know about Kroenke, the Rams, and the NFL.
1. Kroenke is a real estate investor who happens to own a few professional sports teams. He made his billions building strip malls that he rented to Walmart and other retailers. (The Walmart plaza by my house is a Kroenke Properties mall.) His first love is real estate deals, and he's shady. 2. Many people who've done business with Kroenke were financially ruined. Kroenke always sets up the deals so he can take everything when he wants. Just ask St. Louis. 3. The NFL is about money and only about money. Just ask any of the former NFL players who have to beg for money from their wheelchairs like [Conrad Dobler](https://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/27/sports/la-sp-0628-crowe-20100628). 4. The [NFL wants a team in London](https://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/01/nfl-rams-chargers-raiders-move-to-los-angeles-move-to-london-soon), and they want it soon. 5. Stan Kroenke wanted the Rams to play numerous games in London while they were in St. Louis, but the team's contract with the city of St. Louis prohibited it. Kroenke didn't like that. 6. Kroenke learned that cities will throw money at an NFL franchise to entice the owners to move to their city. 7. Kroenke plans to build an NFL palace in Inglewood, California. Not a Rams palace, an NFL palace. 8. Support for the Rams in Los Angeles faded quickly after an initial surge at the start of the 2016 season. 9. Support for Los Angeles NFL home teams was weak throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.
Here’s my prediction: Stan Kroenke will build the NFL palace in Los Angeles, then move the Rams to London. The stadium in LA will become the permanent home of the Super Bowl, plus the site of marquee match-ups throughout the season. Los Angeles will be happy because they’ll get to see more of their favorite teams in these marquee games, the NFL will have a destination-city address, and Stan will sell the Rams to London investor after getting a sweet deal to move the team to the UK.
This was Stan’s long con. He’ll get a lot of help from other owners to build the LA complex. He’ll get the NFL to sign a contract for use of the facilities that will cover his investment. It’s what he does, and he’s better at it than anyone else in the NFL. Then he’ll get a similar deal in London, move the team, and dump it. He’ll hold onto the properties and adjacent properties. He’ll clean up.
This is pure speculation, but Kroenke could make more money my way than by keeping the Rams in LA.
I’m not sure when this will play out, but it will be after the new stadium opens and before the Rams become a contender. (Okay, just about everything will happen before the Rams become a contender.)
When you see news stories about Stan Kroenke buying land in the UK, get ready. Until then, you can tell people this scenario is your idea and you’ll look like a genius when it unfolds. And if it doesn’t, no one will remember a thing. That’s the great thing about predictions like this one: there’s no way to lose and several ways to win.
Oh, and there’s this from The Guardian:
Even before they have played their first game in LA, the Rams are seizing opportunities to spread themselves around the world. Because they are playing in a temporary stadium – the Los Angeles Coliseum – until their new home opens in 2019, they are subject to an NFL rule requiring them to play an overseas game in each of the next three seasons. While some teams might balk at giving up home games in three straight seasons, the Rams embraced the mandate, agreeing to honor an already-scheduled game in London this fall and to play a 2018 regular season game in China.
“This is philosophical, I think. There are people who will view change as a challenge and there are people who view change as an opportunity,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president of international. “In the Rams point of view this is an opportunity. This is a chance to re-frame how they view their franchise for the future.”
Expect that re-frame to end when the Rams move across the Atlantic.