At the heart of this upcoming NFL coup is the relationship between two billionaire sports moguls out of Colorado and their back room handshaking to get the Rams home to the nation's second largest media market.
Stan Kroenke and Philip Anschutz possess an incredible knack for making money. They always have.
Anschutz is a Denver-based businessman whose company co-founded the MLS and has ownership rights in both the LA Lakers and the LA Kings. He also owns part of the Staples Center and Home Depot Center, just to highlight his previous LA business dealings.
Now, the Anschutz Entertainment Group is pushing full speed ahead with a $1 billion project to build a new NFL caliber stadium in Los Angeles. They show no signs of slowing down, and have repeated their full commitment to such a project, despite the fact that, publicly, no team has committed to returning to LA.
And the NFL is certainly not in an expansion mode. To be sure, the league seems very satisfied to hold at 32 teams. So why is Anschutz so set on his billion dollar baby?
Enter Stan Kroenke, head of Kroenke Sports Enterprises fellow Colorado-based billionaire sports magnate. Kroenke has owned the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and he partnered with John Elway and Pat Bowlen (owner of the Denver Broncos) in an adventure with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League.
Kroenke also owns the Pepsi Center in Denver, as well as (to highlight his international reach) the largest stake in Arsenal FC. But in August of 2010, Kroenke made a surprising move.
He agreed to give up his majority stake in his Denver franchises, transferring ownership to his son, in order to get the NFL to agree to allow him to expand his ownership in the St. Louis Rams from 40 percent to full ownership. Kroenke is a native of Missouri.
At this point, Anschutz began the power play for an NFL stadium in Los Angeles. What had simply been a idea was beginning to take a practical form.
Anschutz and Kroenke are friends, and have done business together before. Colorado and Denver citizens are familiar with the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, a suburb of Denver. That venue, while small, is a joint operation by Kroenke and Anschutz.
To condense everything down to size, two Denver-based billionaires have been making big moves relating to the NFL in St Louis and Los Angeles over the past six months, but they have not been publicly claiming any connection to their moves.
Anschutz has so much confidence that he can get an NFL team to Los Angeles, though none have publicly committed, that he is willing to spend $1 billion on a new stadium.
Kroenke was so interested in the St. Louis Rams, who have been a floundering franchise (not positioned in an ideal sports market) that he gave up control of two major professional sports teams in order to acquire them.
And the two men have a long history of business dealings.
Add in the fact that an anonymous source from within the Anschutz Entertainment Group brought all of this information to my attention in an effort to support their claim that the two men were working together and NFL fans can only come to one conclusion:
The Rams are coming home to LA.
As an exciting side note, it will be right around the time that Sam Bradford hits his peak as an NFL quarterback, and the Manning/Brady era will be ending. The Rams could be very, very good.
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