Back in 2012, then St Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, was at the arbitration table (or at least Kevin Demoff and Stan’s reps were); submitting renovation proposals back and forth with the St Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Fans in St Louis and Southern California alike watched the proceedings with various levels of stress, while reading tealeaves and bickered back and forth about where the Rams would ultimately end up playing.
Simultaneously in early 2012, a bidding war for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers was heating up. Several months earlier, Major League Baseball had finally been able to get the Dodgers’ despised owner Frank McCourt to put the team up for auction, following his filing for bankruptcy. By March, the bidding field had been widdled down to three solid candidates, and one of them was Stan Kroenke himself.
At that time (and up until 2018) a cross ownership rule existed in the NFL that stated that an owner of a team could not own a major league sports franchise in another NFL city. While Los Angeles lacked an NFL team, Roger Goodell stated that the league still considered L.A. to be an NFL market. Many fans were left wondering if all this added up to Kroenke ultimately moving to Rams back west and consolidating the market.
Ultimately the Guggenheim Group was willing to spend two billion dollars and gained ownership over the Dodgers, which rumor has it had Kroenke extremely heated. Based on what we know now, yes Stan Kroenke certainly had an interest in returning the Rams to Los Angeles. Eventually the Convention and Visitors Commission would reject the Rams’ costly stadium renovation plan, thus failing to live up to a lease promise to keep the Edward Jones Dome in the “Top Tier” of NFL stadiums, and the Rams were free to seek a remedy in another market. By 2014 Kroenke purchased 60 acres at Hollywood Park and the rest is history.
But what if Kroenke had bought the Dodgers?
Would that have affected the way things played out for the Rams? Would the Rams be playing at Chavez Ravine instead of Inglewood? Chances seem somewhere possibly and very likely.
The Dodgers ownership group currently pays $14m to an entity that is half-owned by previous owner Frank McCourt to use the Dodger Stadium parking lot. However, there is writing that would enable for future development in the parking lots, with McCourt having no say-so in the development, but standing to share in the profits. Among the possible developments outlined is a sports complex, like a football stadium.
While Stan Kroenke was never totally keen on the idea of sharing business with Phil Anschutz at AEG’s proposed Farmers Field, he was able to find enough common ground to create a partnership with Stockbridge Capital Group at Hollywood Park. The haggling and wars between Kroneke and McCourt would’ve been legendary, but likely would have ended up in a smaller version of what Kroenke is developing in Inglewood.
It would have been a totally different look for Chavez Ravine, where Dodger Stadium is somehow nestled into a hilly nest only five minutes from downtown. Some would have likely opposed the development, but it does seem like only a matter of time until something breaks up the sea of parking spots that symmetrically extend out from Dodger Stadium. Also, the metro system would almost certainly have had to figure something out fast with a development of that scale arriving up the hill from downtown.
What about the Dodgers? It’s hard to say that Kroenke would have likely faired any better than Guggenheim as far as fielding a winner. While Dodgers fans remain thirsty for their first championship since ’88, the team has averaged 92 wins since 2012, has made the postseason 6 years in a row, and represented the National League in the World Series that last two seasons. Kroenke has done a great job with the Rams since landing in L.A., and maybe he would’ve hit the ground running in MLB, but that’s impossible to speculate how things would have gone.
So maybe things ultimately worked out for the best in L.A.
Stan is in the process of creating a sports mecca in Inglewood that will attract a slew of major events to the area, the Dodgers continue to contend under Guggenheim, and Chavez Ravine remains an urban oasis and perfect place to enjoy a warm summer evenings.
Still it’s interesting to imagine how differently things might have looked.