Kroenke making play to buy Rams

In an end around, at least from what the public expected would happen, Stan Kroenke has exercised his right to purchase the St. Louis Rams in full.

Kroenke, the minority owner of the franchise with 40 percent, has stated his desire to buy the remaining 60 percent from the family of Georgia Frontiere, per his option. It’s a move that would block Urbana, Ill., businessman Shahid Khan from buying the 60 percent stake as he had agreed to do back in February.

Today was the deadline – at the end of 60 days since Khan’s agreement with Frontiere’s family – for Kroenke to announce his intention. He was expected to stand pat or announce that he would sell his share to Khan. Kroenke was not expected to attempt to buy the entire team because of cross ownership rules that exist for NFL owners. He currently owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The NFL has seemed not likely to bend the rules but clearly if Kroenke is going to test the rule, he’s either quietly worked for back room support or he is prepared to challenge the rule.

“We are pleased to announce that we have exercised our right to purchase the remaining interest in the St. Louis Rams football team under the terms of our partnership agreement,” Kroenke said in a statement, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We have enjoyed our involvement in the National Football League since our original expansion efforts beginning in 1993 and our subsequent 15-year partnership with the Rams. We look forward to working with the Rosenbloom family and the NFL to complete this transaction. We will respect the league and its processes in our efforts to complete this transaction.”

Per Thomas, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the cross-ownership rule and whether or not the league would consider bending it.

“Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, but I don’t think so,” Goodell said last month at the owners meeting. “I think everyone understands we’re going to respect our policies and make sure we treat everyone the same. We have great respect for Stan, and he has to make some choices. But he also understands the league wants to continue to have policies that we think are beneficial to the league in general and fair to all 32 clubs.”

Per the agreement Kroenke has, he was given the right of first refusal and he is attempting to exercise it now after Khan negotiated a purchase price. Kroenke is a savvy businessman who has been successful in real estate and is estimated to be worth $2.7 billion. Consider that his wife is an heir to the Wal-Mart franchise, and he obviously is well backed. Kroenke is also a major shareholder of the English soccer club Arsenal.

Stay tuned for this battle off the gridiron.

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