EDITORIAL – Stan Kroenke – a.k.a. “Silent Stan,” the owner of Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) is a savvy businessman who some accuse of owning the Colorado Rapids as nothing more than a real estate investment. Given that price of admission for new MLS teams has skyrocketed as high as a reported $325 million in recent years, and the area around Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park in Commerce City is no longer in the middle of nowhere, but is starting to be surrounded by suburban neighborhoods, it would appear KSE’s investment in MLS and the stadium is paying off.
Colorado Fans Still Can’t Watch The Rapids
Even valued dead last in MLS, the Rapids are still making gains on their value. But the true real estate KSE should be investing in is the hearts and minds of Rapids Supporters, who were unable to watch the Rapids’ MLS re-restart thrashing by Real Salt Lake.
So the Rapids are playing their first home match in an eternity but we still can’t watch the broadcast because of the feud between Altitude & Comcast & MLS black out rules. That’s it, that’s the tweet.
— Captied96 (@CapTied96) August 23, 2020
Broadcast dispute continues to make it so Coloradans are unable to watch the Rapids
The Colorado Rapids are one of six original MLS clubs, yet ranks second to last in the MLS in terms of attendance. This is likely due to a number of things like the location of stadium being far from any downtown area, the lack of sustained quality results on the field, no serious outreach or advertising to the Colorado community, etc. Interestingly enough, the year before KSE purchased the team, the Rapids had the highest attendance in the MLS.
The newest hurdle added to the mix for Colorado sports fans is the ongoing dispute between KSE and Comcast and DISH. This caused a large number of fans to be unable to watch the re-restart of the MLS against our archrivals Real Salt Lake. I’m not sure who in the Kroenke organization needs to hear this, but it is difficult to build a fan base if your fans can’t watch their team. In fact, you’re actively losing fans.
I’m calling my ticket rep Monday and asking for season ticket refund. Was going to roll into 2021. Can’t justify it anymore. If I can’t watch the boys play, I’m out. Done with Stan Kroenke. https://t.co/KBvUHbqtAS
— Chris Waggoner (@cpwaggoner) August 23, 2020
Kroenke vs Comcast and DISH
When the dispute with the cable companies kicked off, Kroenke had a couple of different options. He could make temporary deals with local television stations to get Rapids, Nuggests, and Avalanche onto channels that anybody with rabbit ear antennas could pick up in Colorado. They could create a live streaming option, such as DC United have set up, for which all locally broadcast matches are live streamed for free for locals.
Instead, Stan Kroenke tried to leverage the fans against the cable companies:
Altitude TV is at risk of being dropped by @dish_answers , @comcastcares & @DIRECTV. That means you’ll miss @Avalanche captain @GabeLandeskog92, @Nuggets all-star @BeMore27 & their title runs this year.
— Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM (@AltitudeSR) August 28, 2019
Kroenke even took the additional step to spend a decent chunk of advertising money to put up billboards all over Denver calling on Coloradans to contact their cable providers.
Unlikely Hero Makes Game Available For Rapids Fans
Since a deal to this day hasn’t been reached between ComCast and Kroenke, and Rapids games are blacked out on ESPN+ for Coloradans, many were left unable to watch the game that would decide the Rocky Mountain Cup.
That is, until an unlikely hero provided a way that even Coloradans could watch the game for free online.
The regular season is back & we’re LIVE NOW!
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) August 23, 2020
Not only that, Real Salt Lake also announced that they were able to negotiate to lift blackout restrictions for those in Utah for YouTubeTV and Hulu.
— Tyler Gibbons (@tylerpgibbons) August 25, 2020
In the meantime, KSE at first claimed that providing a streaming option wasn’t a viable option financially. Then, a day before the re-restart game versus RSL, they announced a streaming option through ATT&T.
Unfortunately that didn’t seem to actually work:
#Rapids96 @AltitudeTV on @ATT TV Now does not work even tho that was promised yesterday. Yes I have the MAX package and no it doesn’t not work. You also cannot sign into your ATT account on the website of Altitude. This is a mess
— Inside Rapids (@insiderapids) August 23, 2020
Rapids not only got embarrassed on the field by Real Salt Lake, they’re being embarrassed off the field as well in their inability or unwillingness to make it easy for their fans to watch their own team.
Where Should KSE Go From Here?
As was pointed out on Twitter, imagine the goodwill KSE would earn with fans if they gave Coloradans a free stream to root on their Rapids.
I can’t imagine an easier way to generate instant goodwill with this weary fanbase than simply … letting people watch.
Flip the switch @padraigsmith
— Noel Franus (@nfranus) August 23, 2020
Unfortunately, a cheap and simple solution for Rapids fans looks unlikely to happen any time soon.
We will never just give Altitude away in market for $5/month. The money just isn’t there.
— Mike Rigg (@RiggAtAltitude) August 26, 2020
There are a lot of things Stan Kroenke can do to invest in the real estate of the hearts and minds of the fan base, and grow and cement that fan base. They can sign a marquee player like LAFC and NYCFC have done. They can move the home stadium downtown, as Chicago recently has, or they could even make the price of food, drink, and admission, family friendly such as Atlanta United have done.
For a start, though, they can grow and connect the fan base closer with the team by making the games available for fans to watch.
The Rapids next game is against who many consider to be their second biggest rival: FC Dallas. Yet again, many Coloradans will be unable to watch the Rapids.
Hopefully the Rapids can earn a victory, and hopefully one day the Rapids can tweet out something in a similar vein to this recent tweet from FC Dallas:
𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐤𝐞, 𝐰𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐝.
Thanks to our sponsor @advocare, we have reached a deal to stream our remaining 2020 locally broadcast matches online in the DFW market.
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) August 24, 2020
I wonder how close to Texas you would have to drive to stream the game for free?
Everyone loves a good MLS debut ‼️
Tonight, we’re debuting FREE LOCAL STREAMING ‼️
Streaming FAQ ⬇️
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) August 26, 2020