Reports of Stan Kroenke's interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers first surfaced on Monday. A report in the LA Times said that the St. Louis Rams' owner was considering making a bid for the Dodgers franchise, up for sale as a nasty divorce sunk the fortunes of owner Frank McCourt. Now, a report is surfacing from the Daily Mail in the UK that says Kroenke did submit a bid for the Dodgers.
Kroenke's interest in the Dodgers has stoked the fires of the Rams potential to relocate, again (re-relocate?), to Los Angeles. Talk of the Rams future in St. Louis is already on uneasy ground with a Feb. 1 deadline looming for the city to make the Rams an offer to upgrade the Ed Jones Dome, making it a "top tier" facility and keeping the Rams from wiggling out of their lease in 2015.
The Dodgers, the Rams and Stan Kroenke ... how does it all fit together?
Speculation connecting the dots between Kroenke, the Dodgers, the Rams and LA is running pretty rampant right now, fueled mostly by mainstream media outlets ... the same ones that are often taking new media outlets to task for their lack of journalistic standards.
Right now, the simplest explanation is that Kroenke sees the opportunity to purchase a high value sports franchise on the cheap, sort of cheap anyway since the price tag is likely to be $1.5 billion for the Dodgers. That's small compared to the potential for $20 billion or more in television rights over the next 20 years that the Dodgers could fetch their new owner.
What's making the connection so easy for some are NFL rules about cross-market ownership. These are the same rules that made Kroenke shift ownership of the Nuggets before he bought complete control of the Rams. If Kroenke were to buy the Dodgers and the NFL to relocate to LA, it would be a problem for him ... unless than franchise were the Rams.
Whether or not there are rules grandfathering in cross-market ownership, I don't know. Apparently, none of the other outlets speculating on the matter do either. I've asked the league's PR people for clarification on the matter.
There is another wrinkle not being considered in the rush to judgement. Kroenke might be looking to get in as part of an ownership group. A look at the bidders reveals most are investment groups, headlined by marquee names. Were Kroenke to be a partial owner of the Dodgers, the rules would apply differently as in the case of his Denver professional sports franchises when he was merely a 40 percent owner in the Rams.
Right now there are two stadium proposals in the LA market, the AEG downtown project and Ed Roski's bid in the City of Industry on the city's outskirts. Both projects have some distance to go before they're shovel-ready.
Stadium ownership is the golden goose in the NFL these days. Owning a facility means year-round cash, cash that is not subject to revenue sharing. The Rams have hinted at that in their talk of making a facility that the city and state can benefit from all year; it also sounded a lot like a soft ask for public money.
Kroenke, a real estate developer by day, understands that. Partnering up with AEG means he doesn't own the facility, not that he could make some nice money off it, but it's not the same as ownership. There have been intimations that Roski would cede his stadium in return for partial ownership of the team.
Owning the Dodgers could make it more interesting for Kroenke. Though it's a big stretch, a big one, Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times notes the potential for an NFL stadium, or combined facility, in Chavez Ravine, the current site of Dodger Stadium.
I mentioned the appeal of the Dodgers because of the value of their TV rights. MLB's broadcasting deal is far different than the NFL's in that it gives individual teams the opportunity to own their own broadcast rights.
Kroenke owns a sports network for his Denver enterprises, and the Rams have a fledgling one themselves, which is limited to their preseason games because of the national nature of the NFL's television deals. A sports network anchored by the Dodgers could be a very lucrative cash cow for whoever owns that team. Throw in a limited amount of content from an NFL team, including four preseason games, and there's even more cash for a sports network focused on the country's second largest market.
Look Before Leaping
There are lots of conclusions being drawn here by a paranoid public and the media more than willing to feed that paranoia. I've even read an AP report citing the fact that Kroenke owns a home in Malibu ... like every other rich guy in America.
Before any of these grand plans could come together, Kroenke would actually have to be the winning bidder for the Dodgers. He has some stiff competition in that race. A more likely scenario, if Kroenke were to actually get a piece of that blue pie, is being part of an ownership group, something likely needed to bring together $1.5 billion to make the purchase.
Next Wednesday is Feb. 1, the due date for the city and CVC to present a plan to the Rams for the Dome's future. Neither side is saying much about it right now, but much more will be known in less than a week. The way things are going right now, anything could happen.