Rhetoric and bluster over the St. Louis Rams' future in the city heated up again on Friday with the CVC's rejection of the team's proposal for the Edward Jones Dome. Insinuations that owner Stan Kroenke already has one foot out the door and pointed west lit up the GED-filled salons of local talk radio. A few mentioned Kroenke's flirtation with buying the Dodgers, but little has been said about the fact that Kroenke actually pulled out of the bidding for the Dodgers in the very last stage of it over concerns around the NFL's cross ownership rules.
UPDATE: This is not true. The Forbes report claiming this is inaccurate according to a source. See this subsequent post for more.
Mike Ozanian at Forbes pointed out this locally under-reported fact in a Saturday piece on the Rams' Dome proposal, which was interesting in and of itself. Here's what Ozanian said on Saturday:
Kroenke ... was interested in buying Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt, but pulled out of the bidding near the end of the sale process because he was told by the NFL Los Angeles is likely to get a football team in the near future. That would have required Kroenke to sell either the Dodgers or Rams (unless he made one of his family members the controlling owner) because the NFL does not permit its owners to have teams in another sport where there is an NFL team.
Strange, I don't recall many talking about that little tidbit in the St. Louis market when holding up Kroenke's interest in the Dodgers as a sure sign of westward travels.
Ozanian reported on Kroenke's decision immediately after the group headlined by Magic Johnson bought the Dodgers for a stunning $2.1 billion. Kroenke offered $1.5 billion, a bid that included the parking lots. After the bids were vetted, the Blackstone Group, which handled the sale, was supposed to conduct an auction for the team with the final bidders. Kroenke "abstained" when Blackstone was seeking final offers from the three bidders. Johnson/Guggenheim group upped its offer, and the bank didn't bother calling the other bidders.
Let me be clear, this is by no means a sign that Kroenke would not consider moving the Rams from St. Louis to LA or Timbuktu or wherever. It may have had more to do with avoiding the short-term headache with cross ownership. It's clear that he is unwilling to sell the Rams, for now, and that would make any arrangement with AEG difficult.
The Rams and the CVC are going to spend the next two weeks talking, negotiating about competing visions for the future of the Dome. Expect those negotiations to play out through June 15, and then head to arbitration. As Saturday's story from Forbes notes, the Rams' plan would increase the value of the franchise by $300 million. Increasing the value of the franchise is a pretty good way to sum up this offseason, from hiring Jeff Fisher to seeking a vastly improved facility.