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E. Stanley Kroenke's journey to bring professional football back to Los Angeles culminated on Jan. 12, 2016 when National Football League owners ratified his proposal to return the Rams to Southern California.
"Stan Kroenke solved the riddle that perplexed the NFL for over 20 years," said Sam Farmer, a columnist with the Los Angeles Times. "He had the drive and resources to make the commitment and did what no one else could do."
Eleven years after NFL owners unanimously approved Kroenke to assume sole ownership of the franchise in 2010, he celebrates the opening of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park – a 298-acre development with a 70,240-seat stadium as its crown jewel, which will host Super Bowl LVI this February as the culmination of its first season with fans in attendance.
The state-of-the-art stadium rises from nearly 100 feet below ground on the former site of the Hollywood Park Racetrack and serves as the home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Additionally, the multi-purpose project serves as a West Coast campus for the National Football League, houses NFL Media's headquarters, features hosting capabilities for future Super Bowls, NFL Drafts, and Pro Bowls.
"I think what Stan has built here and done here, in his creativity with this whole development, this probably is going to redefine this area of Los Angeles for the next century," Chargers Owner/ Chairman Dean Spanos told The Associated Press. "It's going to be something that L.A. is going to be very proud to have."
Equipped with decades of real estate development experience, a passion for sports and a one-of-a-kind vision, Kroenke orchestrated the Rams' return home by privately financing the construction of a world-class stadium befitting the culture and style of Los Angeles.
"Stan has the vision, resources, inspiration and creativity to create the right setting for the NFL in Los Angeles," said Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones. "I have great admiration for his talent and skills, and I have great confidence in his leadership ability in guiding our league back into this very important community. He sees the big picture, knows how to do things on the big stage, and he knows how to do what's best for the long term future. Stan Kroenke is a valuable asset to the National Football League."
In the months leading up to the opening of SoFi Stadium, Kroenke was named Los Angeles Business Journal's Business Person of the Year for 2020. The Rams' return to Los Angeles was named 2016's top sports moment at the 12th Annual L.A. Sports Awards.
DELIVERING A GLOBAL DESTINATION
In a marriage of sports, retail, commercial and residential development, Kroenke constructed a 3.1 million-square-foot stadium expandable up to 100,000 seats that will anchor an urban village, complete with a 6,000-seat performance venue called The YouTube Theater, 300 boutique hotel rooms, 2,500 modern residences, more than 1.5 million square feet of retail, office, conference and meeting space. More than 20 acres of public parks, open space, pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths will divide the district into thirds, offering residents and visitors a regional gathering place in the center of the Los Angeles basin.
"(The) project is uniquely tied to Kroenke's vision of where global sports and entertainment are heading and his zeal to be at the forefront," sports reporter Liz Clarke detailed in The Washington Post in 2019.
In addition to hosting NFL games, SoFi Stadium and the district at Hollywood Park will transform the area into a year-round sports and entertainment destination that will deliver an unparalleled experience for residents and visitors. Beyond Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the stadium has been awarded the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics and the College Football Playoff National Championship and Wrestlemania in 2023.
"Los Angeles is a world-class city with a great record as sensational hosts to college football championships, Olympics, Super Bowls and other top events," said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. "Of course, the new stadium will be spectacular."
"It's iconic," said Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones to the Los Angeles Times. "I've tried to run from the word. But this stadium, there was no way Stan was going to cut costs in any way that would compromise the overall, long-term sense of quality or value. It needs to be like Mt. Rushmore."
The NFL recently opened NFL Los Angeles, a 450,000 square foot Class A building with 214,063 square feet of office space and 74,922 square feet of studio and studio support space to serve as the home for NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL RedZone, the NFL app and many other department's supporting the league's media and business operations.. In addition to office and studio space situated next to SoFi Stadium, the facility features NFL Media's first outdoor studio which will be able to host audiences and includes an outdoor field for filming purposes as well as public use.
"As home to the Rams and Chargers, and now NFL Los Angeles, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park will be an attraction for NFL fans year-round," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "Thanks to Stan's vision, we know Hollywood Park will be the place to be – not just for football, but for entertainment and events, for living and for working. We are excited for NFL Los Angeles to join this transformative project."
The NFL's largest stadium was designed to reflect the climate, characteristics and culture of Southern California, and to capitalize on the site's near-perfect weather, a transparent roof canopy covering 19 acres was developed. Under the lightweight roof made of ETFE, all sides of the building will remain open, allowing for a natural integration between the indoor and outdoor public spaces.
"That stadium is off the charts," said Al Michaels, the play-by-play voice for NBC's Sunday Night Football. "It's very different. It's very special."
Kroenke and project developers officially broke ground on SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park on Nov. 17, 2016.
"It's amazing how much earth has been moved," said Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan who also regarded the stadium as "the eight wonder of the world" in a piece written by ESPN. "It's going to be a phenomenal building," San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York added to the story. "It's going to be the place that you need to see a game."
ENRICHING THE COMMUNITY
Within months of relocating to Southern California, Kroenke's Rams instituted their first local community improvement project in partnership with the Inglewood Unified School District as a continuation of the team's commitment to service.
"The (community improvement) project, being completed through a grant from the Rams, is a visible manifestation of Stan Kroenke, the NFL and the Rams organization to the school children of Inglewood," said Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts. "The Rams have shouted, 'Inglewood kids count,' and I salute them for their investment in the learning environment for our children."
Under Kroenke's leadership, philanthropic activities remain essential to the mission of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. Project developers are committed to positively impacting the Greater Los Angeles Region and the City of Inglewood through world-class entertainment, outreach activities, the creation of new jobs, and local revenues.
"In shifting the center of gravity of West Coast sports to Inglewood, Kroenke has elevated the profile of the community and seeded the area with opportunity for years to come," added Farmer. "A project of this magnitude changes the landscape both literally and economically."
In partnership with the City of Inglewood, Kroenke committed to a 100 percent union job site with priority given to residents of Inglewood and designated local zip codes. Since breaking ground in 2016, more than 17,000 people worked on-site to help construct SoFi Stadium. In order to further create job opportunities for members of the local community, a 15 percent Inglewood resident apprenticeship goal has been established to help workers develop professional and trade skills. At the completion of the stadium construction in Summer of 2020, over 95 Minority and Disadvantaged Businesses had received more than $750 million in construction contracts and local area residents have received more than $93 million in wages.
As a whole, the City of Inglewood's general fund is expected to receive tens of millions in annual revenue from SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. According to initial estimates, the city is projected to receive $13 million in sales tax revenue during construction from equipment and materials purchased alone. Inglewood will also benefit through other avenues such as ticket taxes, sales tax from retail operations, property taxes and a hotel occupancy tax. These funds will help balance the city's budget, improve and expand city services and infrastructure, enhance public safety and maintain open green space. Revenues from Kroenke's entertainment district will also fund new after-school sports programs among other after-school activities for Inglewood's youth. In recognition of their leadership in giving back to the greater Los Angeles region, Kroenke's Rams were honored in 2019 by both the Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles with their Corporate Leadership Award and by Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties as The Wish Champion Award.
AN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS LEADER
Regarded as one of the world's leading sports proprietors, Kroenke's teams have won titles in the NFL, NHL, MLS, and the National Lacrosse League. Kroenke's sports holdings include serving as the majority shareholder of London's Arsenal FC (Barclays English Premiere League), which won its 13th FA Cup in 2017. From 2000-2014, Kroenke owned the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, which are now a part of a family trust. Kroenke's Denver-based company, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), owns the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. Kroenke also owns Altitude Sports & Entertainment, which produces Rams preseason games.
"It is evident that Stan knows how to achieve success in the sports world," Rams General Manager Les Snead said. "His teams have won championships in five different sports and he has experience in building a contender. The success we have experienced through the NFL Draft and free agency, would not have been possible without Stan's support and his willingness to take risks to build our team."
On Jan. 12, 2017, Kroenke hired Sean McVay – the youngest head coach in modern NFL history – to lead the Rams. McVay's 33 wins in his first three years is the franchise's most wins since the 1974- 76 seasons, and his record through the first four seasons (43-21 in 64 regular season games) of his coaching tenure is amongst the best start of all head coaches hired since 2000.
Since onboarding McVay, the Rams won back-to-back division titles and turned in one of the best seasons in franchise history in 2018. That year, Los Angeles finished with a 13-3 record – tied for second-best in team history – won two playoff games and added a conference championship to its collection of accolades. In 2020 the Rams finished second place in the NFC West but won a Wild Card spot. They defeated Seattle in that Wild Card game but fell to Green Bay in the Divisional round.
According to The New York Times, 1997 was the first season to allow NFL owners to own cross-sport franchises. Among current NFL ownership, only two have had three teams win a playoff game/series in the same year in North America. Kroenke was the latest to accomplish the feat as the Avalanche and Nuggets also made remarkable playoff runs during the 2018-19 season. Both the Avalanche and Nuggets secured first-round playoff wins, and Los Angeles advanced to the club's fourth Super Bowl (2018-19 season). The late Paul Allen's Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) previously did so in 2014.
"Mr. Kroenke is committed to building sustainable, winning teams," McVay said. "We're excited to continue that journey as we welcome our fans into our new home in Inglewood."
Kroenke currently serves on the NFL's Broadcast Committee. He has worked on multiple league committees, including the NFL's Workplace Diversity Committee. Kroenke also worked alongside his fellow owners to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association in 2011.
E. Stanley Kroenke, named after baseball legends Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial, was born in Cole Camp, Mo., and grew up in Mora, Mo. Kroenke and his wife, Ann, have a daughter, Whitney, and a son, Josh, Vice Chairman of KSE and KSE UK. In 2017, Kroenke and Josh became owners of two eSports franchises – the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League and the Los Angeles Guerrillas of the Call of Duty League.
Kroenke holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Missouri and he is a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2009 Enshrinement Class).