DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 9: A vendor offers pennants for sale before a victory parade for the Denver Broncos after Super Bowl 50 on 17th Street on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
NFL

Broncos Set To Be Sold In Richest Ever North American Sports Franchise Sale

The Denver Broncos are set to be sold by trustees of owner Pat Bowlen, with a consortium led by members of the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart empire, selected as the winners of the bidding process.

The Walton-Penner group was one of a number of interested parties that went through to the second round of the bidding process last week, but in the end their $4.65 billion offer for Colorado’s famous NFL team was accepted by the Denver Broncos board of trustees for former owner Pat Bowlen.

Bowlen had left his role back in 2014 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He died in 2019 before the club had been sold.

While the sale has initially been agreed between the two parties, it needs to face a review from the Finance Committee of the NFL and once the NFL is satisfied with the deal, it is then put to a full vote of all the other 32 NFL franchise owners.

In that vote, the deal will need to be agreed by at least 24 of those owners (75%) in order to be ratified.

The sale process is expected to take between 60-90 days to be approved and completed and despite the hurdles remaining, ESPN have reported that neither the selling or buying parties expect there to be any issues in finalizing the sale.

“New Chapter In Broncos History”

Speaking about the deal, the Broncos CEO Joe Ellis stated, “Today marks a significant step

25 Jan 1998: Owner Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos with the Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl XXXII game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire /Allspor

on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history.”

Rob Walton, the leader of the Walton-Penner group seeking to buy the franchise was equally enthusiastic about what the future would hold for the Broncos.

“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos!” Walton commented in a statement following the announcement.

“Carrie , Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization into a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.

“Having lived and worked in Colorado, we’ve always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we’ve learned more about the team, staff, and Broncos Country over the last few months.”

New Record Set For Franchise Sale

Any deal for the Broncos was always likely to set a new mark for the highest sale of a sports franchise in North America and so it has proved.

In terms of the NFL, the $4.65 billion deal far outstrips the $2.3 billion paid by David Tepper for the Carolina Panthers a few years back.

Also, it is more than the previous North American franchise record which was the £2.475 billion paid by Steve Cohen when he purchased the New York Mets baseball team back in 2020.

Long Legal Battle For Control

It ensures that the Bowlen Trust receives a huge markup on the £78 million Pat Bowlen and

DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 31: Former quarterbacks for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning (L) shakes hands with John Elway during a ceremony to enshrine Manning into the Broncos Ring of Fame during halftime of a game against the Washington Football Team at Empower Field at Mile High on October 31, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

his siblings paid for taking control of the Broncos back in 1984.

A few years later, Bowlen purchased the shares held by his brother and two sisters to take on sole running of the team and in that period the Broncos enjoyed seven Super Bowl appearances, winning the trophy on three occasions, the last in 2015.

However, after stepping down and placing his ownership in a trust, he never declared who would inherit the team from his children. A bitter battle then ensued through the law courts, between family members to try and claim at least part ownership of the team.

With that lengthy legal process now ended, the sale can now proceed after the trustees and officials from the Broncos met with prospective buyers before deciding the Walton-Penner offer was the best one for them to accept.

With Stan Kroenke being Walton’s cousin by marriage it means that between Kroenke and Walton, they own five of the six major sports franchises in Colorado.

Kroenke already owns the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (NLS) and Colorado Mammoth (Lacrosse).

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