By ED FINKELSTEIN
“Don’t get mad, get even.”
- Joseph Kennedy, father of John F. Kennedy
Whether or not you’re football fan, the trashing of our hometown by Rams absentee owner Enos Stanley Kroenke in his lustful desire to add more to his billions by moving the team to Los Angeles, is an insult to everyone who lives here.
Just three days after the Wall Street Journal named St. Louis as the Number One sports town in America, Cranky Kroenke used mis-information, distortion of the truth and outright lies to justify his quest for more millions by trashing St. Louis, its loyal football fans, and everyone else in his appeal to the National Football League (NFL) explaining why he should be able to move the Rams.
But as Joseph Kennedy suggests, there’s a way to let Cranky Kroenke know he’s full of BS – and David Cook, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655, offers the most effective way to do just that – impact his pocketbook by boycotting his major business enterprise, Walmart.
In a searing response to Cranky Kroenke, “Why Are We Surprised by Walmart’s Kroenke," Cook says plainly:
“Don’t put money into the pockets of the people trying to take as much as they can out of yours.”
In other words, boycott Walmart!
“…what Enos Stanley Kroenke has done is treat St. Louis with the same contempt and cynicism that Walmart regularly treats communities and its workers.
“…every dime you spend at Walmart is another nail in the coffin of the St. Louis Rams,” Cook says candidly -- and we add, is a spit in the face to every St. Louis region resident who loves our hometown.
Cook reminded the Labor Tribune that in 1955
TAX MONEY TO SUPPORT WALMART
Cook rightly points out that Kroenke follows the same pattern Walmart uses across the nation – and right here in St. Louis – to get big tax breaks so it can use tax payers’ monies to build their stores: making outrageous demands for tax subsidies and then threatening to move to a neighboring community if they local government doesn’t cave in to their demands.
In 2010 Bridgeton caved, giving Walmart $7.2 million to build a new stores just a two miles away on the same road from an existing Walmart.
In 2013, Walmart tried to strong-arm Florissant but the City Council said “NO.” The store was built without public subsidies!
Similar battles have been waged in St. Peters, Columbia, High Ridge, and Maplewood.
In the current location fight for the Rams, Cranky Kroenke was not satisfied with the $1.1 billion stadium St. Louis proposed to keep the team here because he can make more money in Los Angeles where he plans to spend almost $2 billion of his own money to build a stadium and shopping complex.
So to bolster his point, Cranky Kroenke turned to trashing St. Louis as unable to support three sports teams and predicting any NFL team coming to St. Louis would lose money. (EDITOR’S NOTE: He refused to release Rams financials to try and prove his point. Enough said.)
But the response was swift and firm. Besides Cook’s clear denunciation, other community leaders responded:
- County Executive Steve Stenger: ““Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s … assertion that the St. Louis area lacks the economic vitality to support a pro football team is demonstrably preposterous. Despite a dozen straight seasons without a winning record and an absentee owner who has shown no inclination to involve himself in this area, St. Louis has continued to support the Rams. Mr. Kroenke is offside in denigrating the St. Louis area in his effort to relocate the Rams to Los Angeles.”
- Mayor Francis Slay - “I was struck by the multiple inaccuracies and misrepresentations of St. Louis and our community’s relationship with the Rams. Far from being ‘struggling’ compared to other U.S. cities, St. Louis is experiencing an entrepreneurial renaissance, ranking first in the world for growth in tech venture capital investment between 2013 and 2014 and being named #1 out of 14 Best Startup Cities in America by Popular Mechanics in 2015. He doesn't feel real confident in his efforts to move this franchise to Los Angeles. What he's attempting here is a Hail Mary pass."
- Gov. Jay Nixon - “St. Louis is… a world-class city and one of the great sports towns in America -- with strong fan support for its professional teams.”
- St. Louis Regional Chamber - The (St. Louis region) is one of the largest economies in the U.S., hosting the headquarters of six of America’s largest private companies and 19 Fortune 1000 companies. It ranks as the 20th-largest U.S. metro area in employment and personal income.”
In a KMOV interview in 1995, after Kroenke bought 40 percent of the team to bring it to St. Louis, he spoke glowingly about the city. "I just feel real fortunate to be here and have the opportunity. Now we turn to the next page and that's the future of our team," he said. "Thanks to everybody in St. Louis."
Kroenke inherited a fortune in Wal-Mart stock when he married the daughter of Sam Walton's deceased brother Bud. Kroenke's wife, Ann Walton Kroenke, is one of the richest women in America, with an inheritance valued at $2.6 billion.
According to Forbes Business, in 2013 Kroenke was America’s eighth-largest private landowner, according to the Land Report 100 ranking. At 66 (in 2013) and worth an estimated $5.3 billion, he has seven homes plus 1.5 million acres of ranchland in Montana, Wyoming and British Columbia, and several California vineyards.
In addition to the Rams, he owns the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Rapids and English soccer club Arsenal.
Kroenke, recognized as the 105th richest American, is owner of THF Realty of St. Louis. The firm was founded in 1991. It owns 100 properties comprising more than 20 million square feet of leasable area in 23 states. A concentration of THF properties exists in Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
REMEMBER AND REACT
When you’re shopping in the coming weeks and months, remember Cook’s suggestion: “Don’t shop Walmart.”
As Kennedy said, “Don’t get mad, get even.”
(Information from this story from STL Today, KMOV, St. Louis Business Journal, ESPN Sport, SprawlBusters.)
‘Kroenke believes (only) what is best for his bottom line’
ESPN Staff writer Nick Wagoner, in an ESPN blog last week, said it clearly: “(Stan) Kroenke clearly believes the move and the stadium are what is best for his bottom line…”
He describes Kroenke thusly: “At his very core, Kroenke is a business man, a savvy, cold-blooded one who is used to getting what he wants.
“Under Kroenke's watch as the majority owner, the Rams have added only six more losing seasons to the NFL's longest active streak of nine. Their 7-9 performance in 2015 also represented a 12th consecutive non-winning season. A jump from awful to a little less awful doesn't change the fact that the on-field product has been dreadful for more than a decade.
“Put that same product on the field in just about any stadium across the league for that long and it's a safe bet that attendance numbers will dwindle. To place the blame on the fans is unnecessarily insulting and demeaning.”