E. Stanley Kroenke

Class of 2022

  • Founder and Owner The Kroenke Group
  • Governor Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

It has been important that our work makes a positive impact.

Enos Stanley “Stan” Kroenke was born in 1947 in a small rural community near Mora, Missouri—population 23. His mother chose the name Stanley as an homage to her English roots. His full name was also in part a tribute to Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial— legends on the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Like his grandfather, Stan Kroenke grew up with a love of sports, but no one could have foretold that he would one day become a global leader in professional sports.

Stan’s father, who had only an eighth-grade education, had a desire to own a business. He started out after World War II with help from the GI Bill. With a small loan from a local businessman, he bought a local lumberyard, which he eventually expanded to include a hardware store. The nearby Lake of the Ozarks was beginning to develop, and the lumber yard supplied materials for families to build small cabins along the enormous shoreline. “My father was a very focused and a tremendously hard worker,” says Stan. “He expected all of us children to work right alongside him. In early elementary school, I swept the floors and learned to keep our accounting books. But by the time I was 12, I was putting in 10-hour days six days a week during the summer. In those days, everything was done by hand. It was difficult, heavy work. Still, we developed an appreciation for diligence and completing challenging tasks. I credit my father for instilling these traits that have been a great help to all of us throughout our careers.”

Stan’s mother was a former schoolteacher who encouraged her son’s avid interest in reading. While the family rarely ventured from their small town, Stan was able to traverse the world through stories about leadership, history, and the natural world. He was particularly inspired by the stories of Horatio Alger and Missourian Mark Twain.

Stan also had—and still has—a passionate interest in sports. He was a gifted athlete and a high school standout in basketball, baseball, and track. He attended a Lutheran school through the eighth grade, which had given him few opportunities to play sports. He was able to actively pursue his academic and athletic interests upon entering the local high school.

Stan earned an academic scholarship to the University of Missouri, making him the only member of his graduating class to attend a large land-grant institution. While excited to begin his college experience, Stan’s early days on campus required a major adjustment. It was his first time living in a larger city, but interacting with his father’s customers and his work experience had given Stan a confidence and an ability to fit in.

“Working in our father’s business taught us how to deal with a variety of people,” he says.

Stan embraced campus life, taking an ambitious academic course load, playing intramural sports, and juggling multiple jobs, including awaking at 3:30 each morning for a paper route. He also bussed tables in the cafeteria of a neighboring college to help pay for his education. Still, he always found time to participate in one of his first passions—basketball. One day on the basketball court, he looked down at his frayed socks. “That was a wake-up call for me,” says Stan. “I wanted to do better in the world and bring in more income while I was in school. I had to figure out a way to make more money.”

With an idea for a retail business, Stan approached his father for a $1,500 loan. “My father gave me the loan at six percent interest, which I paid back to him,” says Stan. “I also put $500 on a credit card to make my investment in the store. The store was pivotal on many levels. It gave me greater confidence as I learned how to build and grow a business.”

Stan studied business with an emphasis on economics while also working full-time at his store. He excelled in his classes, and now knew where he was headed: he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He went on to earn his master’s degree with a dual core in marketing and finance. As a result of his impressive graduate schoolwork, he received an offer of a fellowship to cover costs for a Ph.D. Although this opportunity interested him, he was eager to pursue his business aspirations. “That’s where I felt my destiny lay,” he says.

About this time, Stan met and would later marry Ann Walton, whose father and uncle co-founded Walmart, which at the time was a small regional chain in the South.

Stan formed and worked in several real estate development partnerships, starting in 1975. By the early 1980s, these partnerships evolved into The Kroenke Group, a real estate firm that develops and owns entertainment venues, shopping centers, multi-use properties, apartment buildings, and warehouses throughout North America and in Europe.

By the mid-1990s, Stan’s business success made it possible for him to fulfill a lifelong dream: owning a sports franchise. “Even though it seemed like a far-fetched dream, I always thought it would be incredible to own a professional sports team because of what sports meant to me throughout my life and what they mean to communities,” says Stan. He became co-owner of the St. Louis Rams. In 2010, he became full owner of the team, which is now once again the Los Angeles Rams. Today he owns the Colorado Avalanche (hockey), the Denver Nuggets (basketball), the Colorado Mammoth (lacrosse), and the Colorado Rapids (soccer). Some of his company’s other holdings include Ball Arena, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and Altitude Sports & Entertainment. His most globally significant holding is Emirates Stadium and the Arsenal Football Club, which consistently ranks as one of the most venerated sports franchises in the world.

In 2014, Stan broke ground on Hollywood Park outside Los Angeles, one of the largest privately financed real estate projects in the country.

In 2016, he launched construction of the state-of-the-art and iconic SoFi Stadium—the centerpiece of a 298-acre development that includes a substantial amount of retail, residential, office, and hotel development. The development has created tens of thousands of jobs. SoFi Stadium will host the 2022 Super Bowl, the 2023 College Football National Championship Game, and the 2028 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, along with numerous other headlining events.

Additional business pursuits include the ownership of a number of vineyards, including Screaming Eagle Winery in Oakville, California, and Bonneau Du Martray in France. An avid conservationist, Stan is preserving hundreds of thousands of acres across North America. He owns and operates numerous ranches that implement contemporary animal husbandry techniques in an ecologically-focused framework.

Many of Stan’s business ventures have been risky and bold, but it has never deterred him. Working for his father at such an early age and building a business in college coupled with his academic pursuits gave him a self-assurance and a will to succeed despite the obstacles. “We love the world of business and what it can accomplish,” he says. “We feel like we’ve made a positive contribution to society. As long as we feel we can do that, we will keep doing what we’re doing.”

Today, philanthropy is one of Stan’s great interests. The Kroenke family’s philanthropic interests include youth fitness and education, community service, arts enrichment, natural disaster recovery, and conservation. Many of these efforts are far-ranging, with results that can be seen in communities across the country and around the world. “We are particularly proud to support a number of groups that promote economic development, entrepreneurship, and quality of life improvements in the United States and abroad,” he says.

Stan Kroenke’s advice to young people just starting their careers is to find a vocation that fully engages them. “Find something you love to do and that you’re really interested in,” he says. “In this way, you will always spend more time pursuing the interest and work harder than people who don’t have that passion and focus.”

Stan also believes that a career is more successful when the individual has purpose beyond making money. “It has been important that our work makes a positive impact,” he says. “Our business interests have employed tens of thousands of people. Our developments provide homes and opportunities for smaller enterprises that improve local economies. Through our work, we’ve touched and hopefully improved the lives of thousands of families. That is one of the greatest rewards in the world.”

The key to making dreams a reality, Kroenke believes, is getting a good education. “Education changed my life,” he says. “It gives us the tools we need to bring our dreams and ambitions to fruition. That’s why I am so excited to receive the Horatio Alger Award. It is wonderful to be recognized by an organization that is doing so much to help our most deserving young people get their start in higher education. The Horatio Alger Association is making the world a better place, and I’m honored to be a part of that.”