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Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Details on Rams' ownership transfer

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The NFL has provided a transcript from interviews featuring commissioner Roger Goodell, new Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke and NFL executive Eric Grubman.

I'll pass along some highlights, followed by my thoughts as they (hopefully) arise. Kroenke is transferring ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his son in compliance with NFL rules on cross-ownership of sports franchises.
Stan Kroenke
New Rams owner Stan Kroenke said "it is not our desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis."
Kroenke on keeping the team in St. Louis: "We are going to work really hard. I know this is an interesting question. I have been around St. Louis and Missouri for a major portion of my life. We worked hard to bring the club to St. Louis and on the expansion process in 1993 where we weren’t successful, but we stayed in there and got an NFL team back into St. Louis. It is not our desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis. That is not why we are here. We are here to work hard and be very successful in St. Louis. The realistic part of that is that everybody knows we like to be competitive. Our teams we think are competitive. To be competitive, you have to have revenue. And so we are going to work really hard to have a model that produces revenue where we can be consistently competitive. Anybody can be competitive in the pro sports business every so often, but the real challenge is to be competitive every year. The guys from Denver can tell you, we have been in the playoffs between 70 to 80 percent of the time in Denver. That is the harder part."

Sando's thoughts: All bets are off. That's a noncommittal, businessman's response from Kroenke putting pressure on the community to meet his demands. That is how pro sports owners operate. Seattle's Paul Allen had enough money, in theory, to purchase every NFL franchise back when he broke into the league with the Seahawks in the 1990s. He still got taxpayers to direct millions toward a new stadium. That was a good business move by him and one way to make sure the community was committed to football in the region. Expect Kroenke to go the same route. The Rams will want a new stadium and they will consider relocating if the stadium issue isn't resolved to Kroenke's liking.

Grubman on a timetable for cross-ownership compliance: "There are three specific times. Stan will begin his complete focus on league activities within several months and Stan will have completed his withdrawal from the Denver operations of the two sports franchises by the end of this year. Finally, Stan has agreed unconditionally to be in compliance with our cross-ownership policies no later than December of 2014."

Sando's thoughts: Rams fans in St. Louis should shudder when they hear the year 2014 mentioned in relation to their team. That's when the Rams will almost certainly be able to vacate their stadium lease under terms requiring the Edward Jones Dome to rank among the NFL's top eight stadiums at that time. Back to Grubman's comments. The league wanted to welcome Kroenke as one of its owners, so it was willing to bend the cross-ownership rules for the time being. The league has made similar allowances for ownership changes in Seattle and Miami.

Grubman on former majority owner Chip Rosenbloom's continued involvement: "That’s a structural question. The Rosenblooms are going to continue to own a stake for a period of years so they will be limited partners. There is an agreement between the two parties -- the sellers, the Rosenbloom family and Mr. Kroenke -- as to what would happen with that stake over time. I’m going to leave the specific details confidential in respect to both of the families, but suffice it to say that there is a mechanism that is already in place should Stan, over the course of the next several years, decide to buy in that stake."

Sando's thoughts: Kroenke will be the one controlling the team. The rest is details.

The Rams' ownership just got a lot more sophisticated. Kroenke is in another league as a businessman. The team will gain stability and improve over time, but it's still unclear whether that brighter future will be spent in St. Louis or elsewhere. That part hasn't changed.