How Stan Kroenke Built His Multi-Billion-Dollar Sports Empire

Stan Kroenke holds a $10.7 billion empire in sports and real estate. Kroenke stepped out of his shell after meeting his wife in 1971, who was an heiress herself with a strong background in business. Over the years, he used his instincts and made wise financial decisions to acquire major league teams. Along with buying sports assets, he also focused on real estate investments for the teams to cover every base of profit-making.

A boy that once swept floors in his father’s shop and went on to become a sports and real estate mogul in the world, the story of Stan Kroenke is awe-inspiring. Let’s take a look at how he built his multi-billion-dollar sports empire.

Humble Beginnings And Real Estate

Enos Stanley Kroenke, named after two great players from St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial, and Enos Slaughter, grew up in Mora, Missouri, a small town 100 miles from Kansas City. As a child, he helped his father’s lumber business by sweeping floors before he was allowed to maintain accounting books. He studied at the University of Missouri while working as a busboy at the dining hall of a college. Kroenke’s first step towards building a business empire occurred around the same time he took a loan from his father worth $1,500 and purchased a local clothing store, as noted by Forbes. He sold it in the early 1970s for a sizable profit.

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Later, in 1974 Stan married Ann Walton, the heiress and daughter of Bud Walton, the co-founder of Walmart. He benefited deeply from his wife’s inheritance and received advice from the legendary Walton Brothers about managing a business. They introduced him to real estate development, where he worked until 1985. The New York Times mentioned that Stan built shopping centers that Walmart mainly used. He co-founded the THF Realty and the Kroenke Group and amassed real estate across America. Today, the business mogul owns 60 million square feet of land and ranches that span 1.5 million acres. Around $3.5 billion of his fortune comes from his realty development and his majority stake in the self-storage facilities company StorageMart. However, he earns most of his income from his sports empire.

The Start Of An Unrivaled Sports Emperor

His first foray into sports occurred in 1993 when he bid on a team for St. Louis during the NFL expansion period; however, he failed to convince the league executives to give him a chance. Rather than making another bid, he bought a 30% stake in the Los Angeles Rams to help Georgia Frontiere, the Rams owner, move the team from LA and St. Louis. Over the years, he increased his share to 40%. St. Louis built a domed-shaped stadium for the Rams, an excellent incentive for the team to continue with the city. While adding sports teams to his growing portfolio, he also focused on buying the buildings.

He bought the NBA team Denver Nuggets and the NHL team Colorado Avalanche in 2000, along with their arenas. He purchased the teams and arenas for $450 million, equivalent to $1.25 billion today. Stan Kroenke took his interest in sports across the pond in 2007 when he began investing in the English Premier League. He bought a 9.9% stake in Arsenal F.C under Kroenke Sports and Entertainment which he later increased to 62.89% by April 2011, as stated by BBC. After Georgia Frontiere passed away, he exercised his right and bought her a 60% stake in the Rams, making him the sole owner of the team valued at $750 million.

Continuing The Sports Legacy

Stan Kroenke saw an opportunity to increase profits in the Los Angeles market as it has a population five times more than St. Louis for the NFL team Rams. As the stadium lease for St. Louis terminated in 2015, he took the chance to move the team to Los Angeles again. A year later, the NFL approved the Rams to return to California. Kroenke bought a piece of land in Inglewood, California, to build a stadium for the team. He paid a relocation fee of $550 million and $790 million to the city of St. Louis and its lawyers. In soccer, Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov owned a 30% stake in Arsenal until 2018, when he decided to sell it to Kroenke for $712 million, making him the owner of the team. The mogul was now the sole owner of two teams in the most expensive leagues in the world.

According to USA Today, in 2020, the Los Angeles Rams opened its palatial new SoFi stadium that cost more than $5 billion. The indoor-outdoor arena built by Kroenke is the most expensive and technologically advanced stadium. While the relocation and stadium cost a fortune, the move was highly lucrative as the valuation of the Rams increased from $1.45 billion in 2015 to $4.8 billion after moving back to Los Angeles.

Along with growing his sports empire, the notoriously private Kroenke has also ventured into esports with Los Angeles Gladiators in the Overwatch League and Los Angeles Guerrillas in the Call of Duty League. An empire built on sports and real estate, Stan Kroenke continues to soar by making profitable investments.

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Sources: Forbes, The New York Times, BBC, USA Today

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