You know, maybe I’ve been looking at this whole Stan Kroenke moving the St. Louis Rams thing to Los Angeles the wrong way. I’ve been figuring that since building a billion-dollar-or-more stadium on his own dime in Inglewood seems crazy, when the benefits of playing in L.A. are limited by the NFL’s everybody-gets-an-equal-cut-regardless TV deal, Kroenke is more likely using this as leverage to try to extract a better stadium offer from St. Louis. But what if this is a sign that Kroenke is actually crazy, one of those billionaires who decides that he wants to own a team where he wants to own one, dad-gum it, and nobody is going to tell him he can’t, not even his own accountants?
We’ve seen it before, certainly. And as an additional data point in favor of the madman theory, we have yesterday’s report by NBC Sports’ Mike Florio that, according to “a source with knowledge of the current dynamics in Southern California,” Kroenke plans on moving to L.A. even if he can’t get the approval of the NFL:
According to the source, Kroenke has informed the mayor of Inglewood on multiple occasions that he’ll move the team with or without the approval of the other clubs.
That would be an aggressive, risky move. If Kroenke moves without approval, he’d be entitled to no financial assistance from the league, and his stadium would be blocked from hosting Super Bowls. He also would avoid paying the relocation fee.
The matter could end up in court, as a sequel to the barrister’s brouhaha between the Raiders and the NFL in the 1980s, arising from the league’s efforts to keep the Raiders from moving to Los Angeles. The Raiders eventually won a $34.6-million judgment, which reportedly was settled for a payment of $18 million in 1989.
Obviously, we need to consider the source: Florio has a bit of a record of passing along wild rumors, and by his own description this isn’t much more than hearsay — a guy who knows people says he heard that the mayor of Inglewood says Kroenke told him this. Still, it’s a scenario that we haven’t considered before, and just maybe the lure of getting out of paying the NFL a relocation fee would be enough to risk a lawsuit and having everyone else in the room hate him at owners meetings. If you’re, you know, crazy.
The counterargument is that all signs are that Kroenke isn’t actually a lone nut type of billionaire, but a pretty buttoned-down kind of guy who also owns the Denver Nuggets and a majority share of Arsenal. (Where he was interested enough in making money that he paid himself a $4.5 million dividend even when he knew it would anger fans.) And none other than Marc Ganis, the NFL consultant and consummate league insider, tells USA Today that Kroenke isn’t the kind of guy to go wildly into an L.A. stadium deal before he gets league approval of a team being allowed to play there:
“I’ve known Stan for years, and Stan is a measured, deliberate person who makes very good business decisions, often using patience to do so,” Ganis said. “If he says he’s just going to build it himself and take the league on in court, what have you done? You’ve built a stadium, and you possibly lose in court and you’re out a billion and a half dollars? That’s not a rational way to go about it, and Stan is very rational man.”
Of course, because Ganis is so tight with the league, it’s always possible this is a league talking point: No way Stan does this without asking us first, he’s always been a good boy. It’s a world of unreliable narrators right now, which is enough to drive you … crazy.