Rams owner Stan Kroenke says moving to LA is the rational thing to do
The Rams are moving back to Los Angeles after 20 years, so A Martinez sat down with team owner Stan Kroenke to talk about what's to come.
This week, after the St. Louis Rams officially became the Los Angeles Rams, questions arose as to what's going to happen next. We found out that the team will be playing at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the 2016 season. After that, the plan is that they'll move to a newly built stadium in Inglewood starting with the 2019 season.
Many other questions remain, which is why A Martinez sat down with team owner Stan Kroenke for an interview about the future of the team and what it was like for Kroenke to move his team out of his home state of Missouri.
Below is a portion of the interview, which has been edited for clarity.
What makes Los Angeles such an attractive market to move a team?
Kroenke: We're in the sports business, you know, a number of places. London, Denver, [Los Angeles]. So, we're also real estate developers. There are just so many factors that you look at, but Los Angeles is a huge market. The National Football League is, you know, the most successful sports league in America by many metrics and it had no team. And so for a guy like me it's pretty obvious, right? The league wants a team here.
How vital is it for this team to be a success on the field right away?
I think it's important. Everybody loves a winner. I think Southern California, it's very important. You win, people like it. On the other hand, we want to also be a place that people like to come. That's entertaining. Jimmy Dolan and the Madison Square Garden in New York, whether they won or they didn't win, was always an attractive place for people to come. And it was a center of activity and it's a place you wanted to be. And so that was a great example. But these things work a lot better, and as an owner it's a heck of a lot more fun when you're winning.
So, this project has to be more than just the Rams just winning. This project has more to do with just the football team?
Three hundred acres, once in a lifetime opportunity. Bigger than Century City as a footprint. I mean, you start laying 300 acres across a lot of places that we're all familiar with, this is a small city. The NFL's very interested in NFL Network occupying it — being sort of the iconic campus on the West Coast for the National Football League. NFL digital perhaps, the NFL football hall of fame.
Why didn't it work in St. Louis? Could it be difficult to return there?
That's behind us, but there's a long history there. Where we play is not just where I play — it's where my 31 partners play. And so they expect you to do certain things, to have facilities that are up to date, and they have to work economically. It's an emotional thing. But, there's the emotional argument and then there's rational. And rationally, unless you argue that you should make a massive donation just to support with, it doesn't make any sense.
Do you regret how it came off in St. Louis?
Well sure, but it's emotional. And I'll say one other thing. Their bright, young, African-American city treasurer said the following — people were being pretty shrill about. She said, "You may not like what Stan said, but what he said was true." Those weren't my facts. Those were other people's facts.
How do you feel about sharing the stadium with the Chargers or the Raiders?
Part of the thing I took pride in here was, it was more than two decades. Nobody had done anything. I was proud because people around the league were talking about nothing getting done in Los Angeles. I came here and I got something. I created an option for my partners and I'm proud of that. I was proud of that all of the way through. I didn't know how it would turn out, but I was proud that I'd done that.
Do you think two teams can thrive in Los Angeles?
You want to get into the rational economics of it? It's always better for me to have another team. Guys play with that question — just remember, that's 10 more play dates every year. That's more people coming to the facility. And we're doing the facility, so it's always better for me. That's really the simple answer.
To hear the full interview, click on the audio embedded at the top of this post. If you're curious as to how financially successful the Rams could be in L.A., Ben Bergman's got the answer.