Thursday, August 26, 2010

So the Kroenke era begins...

Last night the NFL Network broadcast limited information on the NFL owners meeting taking place at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta Georgia. They did mention that there was a vote on Stan Kroenke. It was not precisely clear whether he won or not. I immediately looked it up on The answer was yes, Stan has been approved as the new majority owner of the Rams. The facts of the case are these:
  1. The approval vote was unanimous
  2. Commissioner Goodell gave Stan a very nice endorsement.
  3. Stan will be the 7th Ram owner in 73 years.
  4. Many sources are reporting that Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez will still retain some interest in the team
  5. Reports conflict, but VanRam states that Kroenke bought nearly all of the remaining 60% of the Rams for the sum of $450 million.
  6. It is unlikely Chip Lucia will hold more than token stock in the Rams.
  7. Stan has been given a grace-period to divest himself of the Nuggests and the Avalanche.
  8. Regrettably, the NFL has not done away with the cross-ownership ban, or given Stan a pass. Rather he has a temporary exemption so that he can get into compliance with the rule.
  9. Stan has until December of 2012, or until the end of the world, which ever comes first.
  10. NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman says the Nuggests and Avalanche will be passed over to John Kroenke, the 30 year old son of Stan and Anne.
  11. The spectre of a potential move to Los Angeles was raised immediately by the Atlanta media.
  12. Stan said he would never lead the charge out of St. Louis, but he has to remain competitive, and to be competitive he needs revenues.
  13. VanRam is reporting that the first item on Stan's agenda is a new Stadium and a return to profitability.
  14. Certainly, a return to profitability is a critical aspect of the rebuilding project. You can't keep operating at a loss. You either staunch the bleeding or die at some point.

According to my fading memory, Stan began this trek back in late 1993 and early 1994 when a couple of guys named DeBartolo and Jones has spent Georgia under the table. The Rams were in considerable financial difficulty back then also. Georgia had no real money of her own. She was a Las Vegas Showgirl who had been married 5 times. She had nothing more than the money she inherited from Carroll Rosenbloom. While sizable by ordinary middle class terms, that fortune provided no means to compete with real billionaires like DeBartolo and Jones.

As an erstwhile NFC contender, the Rams needed to spend like the 49ers and Cowboys if they were to have any hope at all of launching a Super Bowl run. Georgia was basically forced to find a partner. Stan made it pretty clear he wanted to buy the whole enchilada outright. Georgia wouldn't sell the Rams outright. Eventually, they struck on a deal in which Stan bought 40%.

The first-refusal right Stan negotiated in that purchase contract made it absolutely clear that he was waiting on line to buy the rest of the team. Yesterday, 15 years of waiting in line came to an end. He could have made this process a year shorter, but with such monumental problems to grab hold of, why rush?

His timing makes sense. He will have approximately 4 calendar years in St. Louis to work out a new stadium deal before he can move to Los Angeles, if no progress is made. It should be noted that Stan could move the team tomorrow. He would simply have to pay penalties for breaking his lease early. No one expects him to do such a thing. The L.A. County stadium, either in Industry or downtown, is not ready yet.

It is unclear just who the progenitor of the move to St. Louis was in 1994. Stan is from St. Louis. Georgia was also from St. Louis. The city of St. Louis itself was beckoning a team. Some say that former President Shaw was the key exponent of the move. It's clear that Georgia finally made the move because she was (is) deeply hated by the people of Los Angeles, who believe she hijacked, then ruined the Rams. Georgia summed it up best when she said "I want to go where I am wanted."

You would be hard-pressed to find a more hated figure in Los Angeles sports history than Georgia Frontiere.

One thing the world must acknowledge: The Rams are now owned by the world's greatest sports Mogul. We'll see if he can return us to old form again.

I have to tell you, this news has had a strangely tranquilizing effect on me. I feel my heart strangely warmed, as John Wesley once did... I feel as if the Babylonian captivity has come to an end. Why do I feel that way? Well, let me tell you about it.

The subject of the first ever episode of PBS Frontline was the seamy, lurid and nasty side of sports. They spent a large block of time dealing with the very strange death of Carroll Rosenbloom. This is a fact not a theory. Check out the documentary.

Carrol was a guy who kept uncomfortably close ties with gambling men in Las Vegas. So close were these connections that he actually hooked up with their ex-wives. That would include Georgia. You see, Georgia was a Showgirl who had been married to a few managers of Las Vegas enterprises during the course of the 1960s and 1970s. You know what that means.

On April 2, 1979, Carrol decided to take a little swim in the Atlantic Ocean, off his private beach in Florida. There, he mysteriously encountered heart problems and drowned. PBS Frontline showed videotape interviews with mobsters who claimed Rosenbloom had been dragged under water by the legs and held down until he drowned. Steve Hartman of L.A. Sports talk fame, frequently claimed he had seen photos skin divers swimming away from location moments after Rosenbloom died. There were many gruesome autopsy photos taken of Carroll. Some of those photos alleged show electrical burn marks on one of his ankles.

Shortly thereafter, Georgia had Carroll's body cremated (something you never do to a Jew), she inherited the team, fired step-son Steve Rosenbloom (who was doing an absolutely fantastic job) and moved the team to Anaheim.

We all believe Georgia had Carroll hit by some of her ex-husband(s)'s associates, not to put to fine a point on it. Steve Rosenbloom always believed the same thing. Still does, according to what I hear.

In any case, the spectre of Carroll Rosenbloom's death/murder has hung over the team for a very long time. Whilst I doubt he would have objected to son Chip running the team, I hope he can rest in peace now that clean hands own the Rams.