July 28 2009, 12:10 PM
A prominent name in Denver sports recently became the majority owner in a European team affectionately known as the Bank of England. It sounds crazy, but Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke keeps expanding his global sports empire, most recently by increasing his stake in English Premier League soccer team Arsenal to nearly 29 percent, according to the St. Louis Business Journal (via the Denver Business Journal). The article looks deeper into Kroenke, who's best known for his deep pockets and ownership of the Nuggets, Avalanche, Rapids, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and a third of the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush, along with a 40 percent stake in the St. Louis Rams. It turns out Kroenke comes from modest beginnings in a small Missouri town and built a real estate and sports empire worth an estimated $3 billion. It doesn't hurt that he's married to a Wal-Mart heiress worth more than $2.6 billion. Apparently, Kroenke is a relatively low-profile guy, dedicated to his family, sports, and business. His business acumen is apparent, and the Guardian of London says his recent increase in Arsenal holdings is a "subtle" maneuver to climb above the 30 percent ownership threshold, a move that would trigger his automatic bid for the remaining shares in the team. In April 2007 the Guardian wrote about the anti-Kroenke sentiment brewing in England. "Call me old-fashioned but we don't need Kroenke's money and we don't want his sort," an Arsenal chairman said at the time. "Our objective is to keep Arsenal English, albeit with a lot of foreign players." And that was when Kroenke owned just 11.24 percent of the team.