Stan-pionship: Is Stan Kroenke the best owner in sports

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke holds the George Halas Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Depending where you just read the above headline, you’re either grinning from ear to ear in with a resounding yes. Or, there’s a decent chance you just scoffed, or worse yet, spit up your coffee.

If you’re holding a ticket to Super Bowl LVI, about to watch Stan Kroenke’s Los Angeles Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals from the cushy confines of SoFi Stadium, a Taj Mahal of modern sports – bankrolled by Kroenke himself to the tune of $5.5 billion, give or take – you might very well think Stan the Man is the very best owner if all of sports. Who doesn’t like a guy who’s picking up the tab on project allegedly came in about $2.5 billion over budget? Based on reports from anyone who’s gone, it was all worth it. And don’t forget, it’s his team that’s kicking it off on Sunday, likely to win the most coveted trophy in sports. Titles cost money and who cares anyway when it’s not yours?

If you’re kicking around today in St. Louis, you might already be furiously typing up a scathing email response to this article. “The best owner in sports?” you just asked. “He’s not even a good owner, much less person. Kroenke is the worst of the worst!” Fair enough, he bought your team, proceeded to pack it up and head west. And he didn’t look back, not once.

If you’re nibbling fish ‘n chips and somehow scrolled across this story, you simply disagree. Hate is not a strong enough word for Stan Kroenke, owner of the Premier League’s Arsenal F.C. No matter where Americans stand on Stan, we can’t conceivably understand the well-documented distain Arsenal fans have for their owner. Regardless, the Arsenal are pretty damn good – fifth in the Premier League Standings.

But in Colorado – from where this is written and most likely read – it’s a bit of a complicated question.

In theory, fans of Kroenke’s teams in Colorado, should (or at least could) be rooting for Kroenke’s football team. After all, Kroenke is the man behind an NBA team on the verge of making the playoffs for the fourth season in a row and boasts the reigning MVP. He also owns the Avalanche, currently the very best team in the NHL. Technically, the Nuggets and Avalanche franchises are held in the name of his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, to satisfy NFL ownership restrictions that forbid a team owner from having teams in other markets.

If you like soccer here in the States, it was impossible not to notice that the Colorado Rapids, another team in Kroenke’s extensive portfolio, posted the best record in MLS before taking an unfortunate exit from the postseason. And don’t forget the old Colorado Crush, partially owned by Kroenke and winners of the 2005 Arena Bowl.

At the exact moment, there’s no denying that the standings across “sports” in general, suggest that there’s no better owner – if, that is, winning is the barometer. Sure, Kroenke doesn’t boast the number of championship trophies that other notable owners might – the Patriots Robert Kraft, the Steinbrenner Family in New York, or maybe even Jeanie Buss who owns the Lakers – but Kroenke has piled up a bag full of Ws of late.

But, if you’re standing in deep in line at Ball Arena, about to pay way too much for a mediocre hot dog and irritated knowing that you can’t get a Dr. Pepper at the same concession stand, there’s a 50-50 shot you agree more with the English than a Hollywood Super Bowl attendee.

If you’re a Colorado sports fan, do the Rams make you jealous or hopeful?

There’s been a sentiment here that Kroenke is “cheap” – more often than not unwilling to pay a big price for a free agent that could put the Nuggets or Avs over the top, or for a veteran star who just earned a “big” contract. That’s not necessarily true – not always anyway, as there are plenty of examples of major expenditures over the years – but it’s still said somewhat frequently by the teams’ fans.

There’s also the whole cable television mess. No matter how good Kroenke’s local teams might be, far too many people in the market can’t even watch them. That situation doesn’t sit well with most. Regardless of who’s “most” at fault, there’s a general sentiment that if the billionaire owner wants to find a way to make his teams available on cable, the owner will find a way to get them on cable. Yet, for the better part of three seasons, the Nuggets and Avs and Rapids have gone, basically, dark in terms of local TV.

Here’s another way to ask this question: Since the Broncos are in need of a new owner, if, hypothetically, Kroenke could sell the Rams and buy the Broncos, would you be in favor of that? Before answering, remove the name. If a man worth more than $10.7 billion, who has a track record of sending his team to the Super Bowl, and who just built the greatest stadium in all the land, is interested in owning your team, are you interested?

With no name attached, you undoubtedly would be.

Yet, it’s inconclusive as to whether or not you’re even a member of the Stan Kroenke Fan Club.

In sports, the scoreboard doesn’t lie. And there’s a good chance that on Monday morning, we’ll all wake up with Stan Kroenke standing atop the leaderboard. By that criterion, Kroenke is the best owner in sports, and it’s not even close.

Then again, they might be out of brats by the time you get to the front of the line, and they never had Dr. Pepper to begin with.

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