Stan Kroenke and the Forced Hand

First, there was the announcement that the Rams would play a game in London each of the next three seasons, followed by the subsequent reaction.

Then, Stan Kroenke's name was dropped as one of the "more than 10" bids for the Dodgers. Van, of course, went all smartypants on everyone laying out the details in fine form.

Lastly, we had some fun at the end of the week when the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission noted that the Rams' lease includes a clause that prevents them from playing any home games (outside of the preseason) away from the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams responded in kind:

Huh? Oh. Well that's nice, but no not really. Sorry.

Now while all that linkery has put St. Louisans (and forgive me if that's an incorrect demonym) on edge concerning the fate of their NFL franchise, the truth is that both sides have done pretty much what they had to. Neither has really had much wiggle room in their decisions, because there are only so many things each side can do to gain leverage against the other.

And while St. Louis-based Rams fans may bristle at the idea that Kroenke "had" to manufacture these not-so-subtle threats to head back to Cali, the reality is that it's a necessary play to force the hand of the CVC to come up with a comprehensive plan to create the kind of facility that generates revenue commensurate with other NFL franchises' homes.

As Patrick Rishe, Webster University sports economist and Forbes writer, told the P-D's Bryan Burwell this week:

From a pure business perspective, I'd say this is good business for him to play his cards the way he's playing his cards. I'd say 'job well done.' Someone asked me the other day if he had a moral obligation to St. Louis football fans. I said absolutely not. His moral obligation is to do what is best for the best financial return of the owners. And if I was him, I can't say I wouldn't be doing the same things he's doing.

Of course he can't. I'd be doing the same thing too. It's just smart business. And as painful as it is to admit, Kroenke's a smart owner who should care more about the bottom line than a certain subset of fans.

Ironically enough, it's another factor that's out of St. Louis' (and the Rams') control that could force both parties' hands.

If another team, primarily San Diego, Jacksonville, Minnesota or Oakland, commits to Los Angeles before the Rams have made any permanent decision, the CVC becomes a much more powerful entity in these discussions. And given the news out of Minneapolis and the uncertainty in San Diego, those are real possibilities...once LA actually puts shovels in the dirt.

These are uncomfortable times for Rams fans. That won't change very soon. But if there's any solace to be had, it's that neither party has had a real chance to do anything yet. And that means noone's screwed anything up.


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