Politics makes strange bedfellows — even when one of those fellows plans to go nowhere near his bed during the Democratic National Convention.
Developer Stan Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, number 336 on Forbes.com's most recent list of billionaires; her uncle, Sam Walton, founded Wal-Mart. And Ann helped fund Stan's $404 million purchase of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche — as well as the Pepsi Center where the teams play — back in 2000, signing on as a guarantor of the deal with the city, which controls the land around the facility. Stan went on to purchase the Colorado Rapids and build the soccer team its own $71 million stadium out in Commerce City, Dick's Sporting Goods Park (see this week's cover story); he's also bought the Colorado Mammoth and invested in the St. Louis Rams (he's co-owner), the Colorado Crush and the U.K.'s Arsenal.
With investments like that, as well as assorted real-estate projects and a boutique winery, it never hurts to have a little extra cash — and thanks to the Democratic National Convention, Kroenke Arena Co. will have $6.5 million more, the amount it's costing to lease the Pepsi Center this summer.
The lease agreement covers the seven weeks it's taking to retool the facility for the convention (but not the cost of the work itself), the convention period (no rebate for that day when the Obama campaign is moving everyone to Invesco Field at Mile High), and another two weeks to put everything back the way it was (bring on the Dippin' Dots!); the $6.5 million is included in the $40.6 million that the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee has had to raise, according to spokesman Chris Lopez.
In addition to collecting a hefty rent check from the Dems, the lease also guarantees Kroenke's company a suite that overlooks the DNC's proceedings.
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But the real view is from Stan Kroenke's penthouse, built high on the northwest side of the Pepsi Center. At Monday's walk-through of the building, Travis Dredd, the DNCC's deputy CEO of Inside the Hall Operations, revealed that Kroenke wouldn't be staying at those palatial digs during the convention. In fact, Dredd said, Kroenke, plans to be out of town.
Which is handy, because that way Kroenke, a staunch Republican and billionaire in his own right, won't have to answer any awkward questions about how his company can collect millions from the Democratic National Convention — when, according to a front-page story in the August 1 Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is "mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies — including Wal-Mart.
"In recent weeks," the Journal reported, "thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized."
For the record, the Pepsi Center isn't unionized. And with $6.5 million coming his way from the DNC, Stan Kroenke won't need to list his penthouse on Craigslist, either.