Stan Kroenke: Championship owner; Taylor Swift, Beyoncé host

Stan Kroenke

Stan Kroenke, photographed in Bloomington, Minn., on Aug. 9, 2022. (Aaron Ontiveroz / MediaNews Group / Denver Post / Getty Images )

Stan Kroenke didn’t just build a football stadium. The Rams owner and billionaire developer solved a puzzle that had confounded the NFL for two decades. He found a way to reunite the nation’s No. 1 sports league and No. 2 market.

In the process, Kroenke moved the Rams from St. Louis and constructed a swooping, $5-billion sports and entertainment complex at Hollywood Park that changed the landscape of Los Angeles and shifted pro football’s center of gravity to the West Coast.

“I don’t believe there’s anybody who could have made that happen other than Stan Kroenke, because of the situation he was in,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He owned an NFL franchise that was struggling in its current market. He understood how to put a development project together, he had that vision. And he had the capital to be able to do it.”

Kroenke, whose stadium is also home to the Chargers, shouldered enormous risk to turn that vision into a reality. That garnered a lot of respect from some of the NFL’s most influential owners, among them Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots.

“Robert toured the site when it was just a hole in the ground,” said Kroenke, 76. “He said it took a lot of guts. I said, ‘Well, this is all good, but when I’m sitting on a street corner out here in a few years, will you buy me a cup of coffee?'”

‘He owned an NFL franchise that was struggling in its current market. He understood how to put a development project together, he had that vision.’

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner

In the years since, SoFi Stadium has hosted a string of huge events, none more thrilling to Kroenke than his Rams winning Super Bowl LVI on their home field in February 2022. That Lombardi Trophy launched an 18-month stretch during which two other Kroenke franchises — the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets — also won championships.

“You talk about the movie business,” Kroenke said. “Well, you could write that script and nobody would believe it.”

SoFi Stadium was also home to college football’s national championship game in early 2023. Extended tour stops last summer by Beyoncé and Taylor Swift — whose “Eras Tour” movie was filmed over the course of two dates at the Inglewood venue — elevated SoFi beyond football to a 3.1-million-square-foot symbol of the massive scope of L.A.’s cultural power.

“I knew that SoFi Stadium would become the Eighth Wonder of the World,” said Anthony Noto, chief executive of SoFi, the online personal finances company. “But I’d be lying if I told you I knew it would be a movie star, too.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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