The London Games: Selling Hope In One City, Fear In Another

Enos Stanley Kroenke is a businessman first, second and third.  As of now, his business interest is the St. Louis Rams.   That being said, Kroenke has no intentions of sitting back and collecting guaranteed TV revenue.  He wants to win.  He took his first step towards that in hiring Jeff Fisher as head coach.

Now that Kroenke hired a man who can win him football games, he wants to maximize his profit.  Why not play in London once a year?
Wembley Stadium, London

Kroenke is no stranger to London.   He is already a “player” across the pond.  He owns the London-based English Premier League team Arsenal.  On Friday, Rams COO Kevin Demoff participated in a live chat with Rams fans on the teams website explaining why they made the decision to play across seas. “This is a unique opportunity to showcase St. Louis globally and especially in the UK. For multinational businesses like AB, Monsanto, Enterprise, Emerson, Purina, etc, this provides a platform that combines their local roots with international reach.”

That was the only thing Demoff said that had any validity to it.  The rest was P.R. spin.

“If you look at Buffalo playing yearly in Toronto, they are applying the same concept to grow their fan base while still being a regional and local team.”  Comparing Buffalo’s situation to the Rams going to London is pathetic.  102 miles separate Buffalo and Toronto. St. Louis to London is a tad more.

Contrary to popular belief, the games are not being played in London because of low fan support the last few seasons.  Kroenke is a smart guy, he does not expect people to show up to watch a team that goes 15-65 over an eighty game stretch.

That’s why he hired Fisher, to win games and put but butts in the seats.

London is not a  permanent home. 

So far, the teams that have played a London game spend nearly an entire week there practicing, followed with a bye week.  Having a team in London permanently is impossible.   Teams would spend as much time in the air as they would on the practice field.

Kroenke is simply creating another revenue stream for his product.   If he can pick up a few extra fans or sell some more jerseys and hoodies by playing three games in London,  he’s going to do it.

English: Edward Jones Dome - Home of St. Louis...

Image via Wikipedia

It also doesn’t hurt that playing in London puts pressure on the St. Louis Convention and Visitor’s Commission to approve a plan to improve the Edward Jones Dome.  If the Ed is not one of the top eight facilities by the end of Kroenkes lease, which expires in 2014, he can opt out.  It makes sense for the St. Louis fans to try to connect the dots of Kroenke re-locating.  Just not in London.

Kroenke Sports Enterprise owns the Pepsi Center in Denver, the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Mammoth (NLL) and formerly the Colorado Crush (AFL).

Per NFL rules, he signed the Avalanche and Nuggets over to his son, Josh.  The  Pepsi Center cost Kroenke $160 million in 1999.  If Kroenke were to build a new, top-notch stadium in St. Louis out-of-pocket, it would cost him nearly $1 billion.

I don’t care how rich you are, you don’t spend $1 billion if you don’t have to.

Kroenke skeptics worry because of his lack of public commitment towards St. Louis. If Kroenke were to come out and say what everyone wants to hear, he would be lying to them.  Remeber Albert Pujols and the DeWitts?

The fact is Kroenke does want to stay in St. Louis.  He has deep ties there.  He was born and raised ninety miles west of St. Louis in Columbia, MO.  He helped bring the team there from L.A. in 1995.  He was even named after St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame right fielder, Enos Slaughter Remember, Kroenke is a business man, trying to make the most money while spending the least.  But if St. Louis is going to make him dig deep into his pocket to stay here then I’m not sure he will.  Only time will tell.

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