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Stan Kroenke: The man with the Midas touch
At 75, American property developer Stan Kroenke has amassed an impressive collection of professional sports teams. Best known in Europe as the owner of Arsenal, he also possesses numerous teams in the United States, many of which have been crowned champions under his ownership.
Passionate about sales and business from a very early age, Stan Kroenke has never hidden his ambition to become rich, very rich. Mission accomplished! Today he is the world’s 138th richest person, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $12.9 billion dollars.
A Missouri native, as a child, Stan Kroenke worked in his father’s lumber yard, first sweeping floors before graduating to keeping the company’s books. Once he became an adult, his father leant him $1,500 to start his own business. Kroenke senior did not have to wait long to get his money back as his son had a knack for business.
Kroenke used the loan from his father to invest in a clothes store. But it above all thanks to his wife, the Walmart heiress Ann Walton, that he made his fortune. Kroenke’s father-in-law Bud Walton – one of the founders of the supermarket chain – took him under his wing and helped him launch in the real-estate business. Today the Kroenke Group owns over 18 million square feet of office and commercial property.
Vast sporting empire
Stan Kroenke has owned premier league football club Arsenal FC outright since 2018, having become the majority shareholder in the North London club in 2011. He is also the owner of franchises in four of the five American major leagues – the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), the Denver Nuggets (NBA), the Colorado Avalanche (NHL) and the Colorado Rapids (MLS) – and would have the full set had he not been outbid for the LA Dodgers in 2012.
Kroenke can lay claim to having the most successful set of sports teams in recent history, with the Rams winning the Super Bowl in February 2022, the Colorado Avalanche lifting the Stanley Cup a few months later and the Denver Nuggets winning the NBA Championship in 2023. Furthermore, Arsenal finished runner’s up to Manchester City in the Premier League last season, earning qualification for the 2023-24 Champions League.
Kroenke’s strategy for certain of his sporting assets has not been without controversy, however, notably the decision to relocate the Rams from St Louis to Los Angeles after the 2015 NFL season
His strategy for certain of his sporting assets has not been without controversy, however, notably the decision to relocate the Rams from St Louis to Los Angeles after the 2015 NFL season. On the other side of the Atlantic too, there have been rumblings of discontent. In April 2021 Arsenal fans protested angrily against plans by their team to join a breakaway European Super League. In light of the fan backlash, Arsenal quickly withdrew from the project.
Value for money
In terms of the value of his teams, Forbes magazine puts the Rams at $6.2 billion (2023), the Gunners at $2.26 billion (2023), the Nuggets at $1.93 billion (2022), the Avalanche at $860M (2022) and the Rapids at $350 million (2022).
Kroenke is attracted by leagues that generate increasing revenue in terms of TV rights and sponsorship. The Premier League is the most profitable football/soccer league in the world, while its US equivalent, the MLS, continues to grow in popularity and value: LAFC recently became the first club to be valued at a billion dollars by Forbes, and arguably the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi, made his debut for Inter Miami in July.
And as you would expect from a real-estate mogul, Kroenke is keen to be the owner of the stadia where his teams ply their trade, as is the case with the Ball Arena in Denver or the Emirates Stadium in London. And as for SoFi Stadium, the spectacular new home of the LA Rams and LA Chargers, it is estimated to have cost Kroenke and his business partners a cool $5 billion to develop, but is already a driver of property value in the Inglewood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Unsurprisingly for someone his age, Stan Kroenke takes a hands-off approach to the running of his various sporting teams. As is the family tradition, he has delegated much of the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the family business to his son Josh who now serves as the president of both the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
But the owner of the Screaming Eagle vineyard is not done with sports real-estate yet. Kroenke recently took over the Midway Rising development project in San Diego, the centerpiece of which is a 16,000-seat arena that could potentially host an NBA or NHL team.
And before he calls it a career, you wouldn’t bet against the man from Missouri making a bid for the San Diego Padres baseball team in the coming years, to complete his collections of major league franchises.
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