According to an article in the Sports Business Journal, Missouri billionaire Stan Kroenke had private discussions with Shahid Khan, an Urbana, Illinois businessman interested in buying the Rams, asking him for a mid to high eight figure fee for Kroenke to pull out of Rams ownership.
On Wall Street, the term is called “greenmailing,” but many in the St. Louis media are calling it blackmail. Kroenke propsing that Khan pay in excess of $50 million dollard to Kroenke and he will back out of Rams’ ownership and not compete with Khan for the franchise.
Back in Feburary, Khan entered into a sales agreement with Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriquez. Kroenke who owned 40% of the team had 60 days to stay in at 40%, get out, or attempt to buy the team out right. Just as the deadline was approaching earlier this month, Kroenke said he was all in, however, there are multiple issues that could be stacked against Kroenke. The first is the NFL has a policy that no owner of another sports franchise may own an NFL team. Kroenke owns the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. The second issue is public opinion of Kroenke may be hitting rock bottom in St. Louis.
When he announced he would put in a bid for the team, he’s never once made mention of his intentions of keeping the team in St. Louis. Khan, on the other hand has stated he will keep the team in St. Louis. It is most likely that Kroenke would move the team back to Los Angeles if he was the winning bidder. Or perhaps, Kroenke is just looking to get out of Rams organization and is looking to maximize his profits.
According to figures in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kroenke paid $80 million for his 40% share. If the numbers he was blackmailing, er, greenmailing Khan with were above that, he’d be looking to turn a profit.
I know Kroenke has gotten a bad rap in the St. Louis media for his hard nosed business moves, but I don’t fault him for being a shrewd business man. Through Kroenke’s eyes I see two scenarios playing out. Get Khan to cough up the extra money so Kroenke gets out of the game or put in a bid in for the team and move them to L.A. where he’d get a new stadium and in his mind a better economic climate for an NFL team. Stay tuned because this saga is far from over.