Good thing the St. Louis Rams hired a new general manager to help run the show at Rams Park, because the team's owner, Stan Kroenke, is going to be very busy over the next week. The 11 parties bidding on the Los Angeles Dodgers, which includes Kroenke, have been asked by the Blackstone Group to submit a revised bid within the next week, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Along with their revised bids, Kroenke and the others must identify investors, provide financing details and attach a five-year business plan for the franchise. The highlight of that business plan will likely revolve around the team's lucrative television rights.
The Dodgers' current deal with Fox expires after the 2013 season. Conservative estimates peg the Dodgers' broadcast rights to be worth $100 million annually, and that was before the LA Lakers inked a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner for their broadcast rights.
Any proposed business plan would most likely center on the creation of a new sports network, similar to what the Yankees have with the YES Network, or opening a bidding war for the team's rights with existing broadcasters. Stan Kroenke has some experience in this area. He created the Altitude Sports Network in 2004, which is anchored by the NBA's Nuggets and NHL's Avalanche, teams formerly owner by Kroenke until he turned them over to his son in order to be in compliance with the NFL's cross-ownership rules.
After submitting the revised bid and associated documentation to the Blackstone Group, the bidders will then go through a second round of cuts. The remaining bidders will be sent to Major League Baseball for a final round of vetting before Frank McCourt, the current owner, picks a winner by his self-imposed April 1 deadline.
MLB has a history of being itchy about allowing cross-ownership themselves, and Selig's office has been notorious for preferring people they know and people with connections to the game and the community. Hey, Enos Stanley Kroenke is named after former Cardinals great Enos Slaughter.
Names aside, if anything will help Kroenke's attempt for buying the Dodgers, it will be his deep pockets and experience with successfully running sports franchises. MLB will want a competitive Dodgers team as the crown jewel of the country's second largest media market.
MLB has said that they will approve up to 10 bidders.
Kroenke will have competition, fellow billionaires and people with long standing ties to the game and the sports business.
It was revealed last week that Memphis Grizzles owner Michael Heisley is also among the bidders. Heisley is a Chicago businessman who made his billions turning around moribund companies, similar to what he would be tasked to do with the Dodgers. Assisting Heisley would be Jerry West, a Lakers legend and a front office whiz who helped get the Grizzlies on track. Heisley is reportedly willing to spend the money to make the Dodgers a competitive team again, quickly.
On Feb. 2, ESPN personality and former MLB front office man Jim Bowden said that Kroenke was a front runner for the Dodgers, but it is hard to know that at this point in time. The next rounds of vetting from Blackstone and MLB will reveal much more about the process and Kroenke's standing in the race.
If Kroenke does end up buying the Dodgers, it would raise very real questions about the future of the Rams in St. Louis, far murkier territory than where things stand now in the Dome lease negotiations.