Perhaps you heard last night that the St. Louis Rams and owner Stan Kroenke had some less than praiseworthy offerings regarding the city of St. Louis in their official filing to relocate the team to Los Angeles (the full filing is available here).
It is, of course, largely bullshit as this piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Ben Fredrickson rebuts. The central problem is that Kroenke and the filing relies less on the strength of relocation and more on the supposed insufficiency of St. Louis as a NFL market.
It's filled with the kind of asides and statements we've seen from lazy and/or somewhat unintellectual members of the media. And while social media was filled with the more emotional responses from St. Louisans (or this USA Today story that called him "the Benedict Arnold of St. Louis) ...it's exactly what Stan Kroenke had to do.
The Daily Beast has chronicled the story from back in 2004 when Inglewood "wouldn’t exempt Wal-Mart from the zoning and environmental regulations" at the site of Kroenke's proposed stadium. Jim Thomas, at the P-D, revealed that as far back as 2013, San Diego Chargers Owner Dean Spanos had actually offered interest in "pairing up" with Kroenke at the Inglewood site, but Kroenke went solo:
In 2013, Spanos approached Kroenke about pairing up on the Inglewood/Hollywood Park site, according to league sources speaking on the condition of anonymity. It’s the same general area the Oakland Raiders and even the NFL itself had previously considered as a stadium site.
Initially, Kroenke was not aware the 60-acre tract owned by Wal-Mart was available, according to sources. In any event, Spanos didn’t hear back from Kroenke for weeks. Spanos later learned that Kroenke had excluded Spanos and purchased the land himself.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to imagine Spanos wishing to now join forces with Kroenke in Inglewood.
At every step of the process, Kroenke has isolated himself from potential allies as well as potential competitors to go it alone on the LA front.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Rams' relocation filing burned any and all bridges with the city of St. Louis. We can dispense with the fact that Kroenke and Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff have obliterated their previous statements praising the St. Louis market.
Kroenke cornered himself into having to go all in on heading to Los Angeles and trashing St. Louis in the process.
So with NFL ownership set to convene next week to hold a vote on the relocation issue with the Rams, Chargers and Oakland Raiders having all filed to move, St. Louis fans would do well to take a note from Kroenke's business handbook.
Ignore him. Offer him silence.
Bear in mind, the new pariah of St. Louis is the same billionaire the city of St. Louis is willing to give $400m of taxpayer money to to convince him to stay...
Now that many of the emotions have subsided a bit and given way to clearer heads, perhaps we'll a city less motivated by revenge fantasies of a spurned partner and more by a community willing to play the game with whomever is willing to face off against them.
Remember, this is an owner who expected some jack out of the market in the first place. Now that the city is willing to pony up $400m worth of jack at a time when wealth is concentrating at the absolute top strata more than at any time in the last 50 years, don't expect Kroenke to come back to St. Louis with a Coke and a smile.
Random note in closing? The St. Louis Business Journal, which has that 50-year wealth piece, published the St. Louis market survey conducted back in May. Their reaction piece, published in July, summing up some of the more negative assessments of the St. Louis market was mysteriously pulled from the site. We contacted the Journal to see why and received a two-word reply from Editor Patricia Miller, saying simply: "Technical glitch."
The piece was never republished.
We contacted another source at the journal to seek clarification. Their response to our question as to why the piece was pulled and not republished?
That's a question for management. All I can tell you is it was factual.
St. Louis doesn't need to get mad at Stan Kroenke for playing his hand. They just need to be prepared to play theirs.