After the failed expansion attempts in STL for a new NFL franchise, city leaders pushed hard for a reward after piling millions into the nearly open TWA Dome.
Georgia Frontiere was looking for greener pastures out of LA because she couldn’t get a stadium deal done. During the ’94 season, the Rams became a lame duck in LA.
Attendance tanked, fans tuned out, and they saw the writing on the wall. They all knew what was coming, and they didn’t even put up a fight (except for a slight few) to try and keep the team.
Georgia attempted to move the team to Baltimore at the time at the same time that Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns was looking to escape the city of Cleveland. Once Modell found out that Georgia was make her play to get to Baltimore, he cut her off and moved before she could get going. We all know how that turned out for Modell.
The Rams initially attempted to move out of LA, disapproved by the NFL owners. When STL officials were given the go-ahead by city leadership to do everything necessary to land an STL franchise, they went all out and sold their soul souls in the process.
The sad thing is, in my opinion, St. Louis already had the Rams if they had made a better attempt at negotiating the lease with them. Instead, they gave up the farm to land a team that could’ve been theirs for a lot less than the sweetheart deal that was given. St. Louis paid $15 million in relocation fees, and The Rams received a 260 million dollar stadium, a 15 million dollar practice facility in Earth City, and a $250,000 yearly lease. St. Louis also ate the Rams’ $30 million debt to LA to land a team in the Lou.
As you can see, everybody’s good old buddy Georgia, who desperately wanted to come home to STL to save Football, was a farce. She made millions in the process of coming “home.” The Rams went from operating at a 9 million dollar loss a year in LA to a 20 million dollar profit a year in STL. Say it ain’t so, Georgia! Oh, it is so! So after the slam dunk of expansion just kissed off the rim, officials gave away the farm for magic beans that barely grew and were half rotten.
In ’95, when the team moved, Georgia sold a 30% stake in the team to Stanley Enos Kroenke, the wealthy real estate tycoon and villain of this story, hailing from Columbia, Missouri, bought the 30% then 40% stake (in the early 2000s) for, get this, $60 million. That’s right, and you read that correctly. When the unfortunate passing of majority owner, Georgia Frontiere, passed away from cancer in 2008, the Rosenbloom children became de facto owners of a team they didn’t want. They started shopping the team, and Shahid Khan placed the winning bid to buy the team, but OUTTA NOWHERE COMES STAN KROENKE!!!
He put the kibosh on Khan’s attempt to buy the team and exercised his right of first refusal, which was in his contract when he bought his 40% share. He purchased the remainder of the Rams for $450 million. If you do the math, he’s into to the tune of $510 million on a franchise value at the time in 2010 of $750 million. He knew he would move then if he did not plan contingencies before the fact.
Kroenke was in this for the long haul. He was in this as an investment property, knowing it would triple in value if he moved it to LA LA Land and then rolling in it.
Just think of it this way, if it weren’t for all those untold millions and millions that the Rams made off the backs of taxpayers, they probably wouldn’t have ever sniffed a Super Bowl, let alone make it to the playoffs. That influx of support made it float, and when the lake dried up, they pulled anchor and sailed out of town back to LA.
So, who was Frontiere? Savior? Money grabber?
What was Kroenke? The Grinch That Stole Football? Ebenezer Scrooge? That piece of food stuck between your teeth?
Frontiere did bring football back to St. Louis, albeit selling her soul, or 30%, then 40% to the devil to get it; well, maybe the devil is a little harsh…..then again, no, it isn’t.
Thanks for reading.