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Championship Owner; Taylor Swift, Beyoncé host

Stan Kroenke

Stan Kroenke, photographed in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 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 baffled the NFL for two decades. He found a way to reunite the nation’s No. 1 sports league and the No. 2 market.

In the process, Kroenke moved the Rams from St. Louis and built a massive $5 billion sports and entertainment complex in Hollywood Park that changed the landscape of Los Angeles and shifted the focus of professional football to the West Coast.

“I don’t believe there’s anyone who could have accomplished this 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 today’s market. He understood how to set up a development project, he had that vision. And he had the capital to be able to do it.”

Kroenke, whose stadium is also home to the Chargers, took a huge risk to make that vision a reality. That earned a lot of respect from some of the NFL’s most influential owners, including Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots.

“Robert visited 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 if I talk about this been sitting on a street corner for a few years, would you like to buy me a cup of coffee?’

“He owned an NFL franchise that was struggling in today’s marketplace. He understood how to put together a development project, he had that vision.’

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

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

“You’re talking about the movie business,” Kroenke said. “Well, you could write that script and no one would believe it.”

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

“I knew SoFi Stadium would be the eighth wonder of the world,” said Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi, the online personal finance company. “But I’d be lying if I told you I knew he’d be a movie star, too.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.