ENGLEWOOD (Colo.) — Just as the sun was shining on a July day 2014, so were theThey were about to open their third training camp, with quarterback Peyton Manning as the head coach. Joe Ellis, then the team president, made an announcement that resulted in the sale of the franchise.
Ellis announced that Pat Bowlen, Broncos majority shareholder, was unable to participate in the team's operations because of Alzheimer's disease. Bowlen was a charismatic presence in the team's compound during a three-decade period of great success, which included more Super Bowl trips and less losing seasons.
Ellis stated that it was a sad day for the Bowlen family, our employees, the community, and people in the region. “Pat wants us do two things. He wants us all to win. This is something he has always desired and will continue to desire. He's also always desired that everyone do things right.
In the eight years since that July announcement, a lot has been accomplished. In 2019, Bowlen's death triggered legal battles, court dates, and harsh words from his family about ownership. The team wasThis week, four groups were allowed to submit their second round bids for the largest ever North American team sale.
Sources confirmed that Rob Walton (heir to Walmart), led the group.The second round of bidding was attended by Josh Harris, Mat Ishiba's group and Jose Feliciano's and Behdad Elgbali's groups.
Many NFL officials expect the new owner to be revealed by month's end and a deal in place by the start the regular season. How did we get here and what's next? These are the answers.
Why are the Broncos on sale?
Bowlen never officially declared a successor for his majority ownership among his children. His interest in the team, which was estimated at 78% at the time, was placed in trust by Ellis, Broncos consultant Rich Slivka, and Mary Kelly, Denver attorney.
The trustees gave Annabel, Bowlen's widow, and the children in 2015 a formal outline of the requirements to be the principal owner. The outline required an advanced degree and five years of experience in senior management with an NFL team, league office or league. Bowlen hoped that one of the children would become the principal owner and then be installed by team trustees. If there is no agreement about who the principal owner of the team will be, then the team will be sold.
The trustees rebuffed Beth Bowlen Wallace's request to be the controlling owner, as she was one of Bowlen’s first-married daughters. Brittany Bowlen was one of Bowlen’s children after his marriage to Annabel. Ellis provided public support and offered Ellis a management job with the Broncos. All seven children had to agree on who the trustees would select as the principal owner. Once the winner was selected, the remaining six couldn't sell their shares in the team.
A lawsuit was filed by Beth Bowlen Wallace, and Amie Klummer, Bowlen's two oldest children. It claimed that the trust was invalid due to Bowlen's confusion about what he was signing because of the progression in his Alzheimer's.
The lawsuit was dismissed 2021 before a trial was due to begin. There were reports that an agreement may have been reached behind-the scenes. Since then, neither side has commented.
When was it officially put on sale?
In JanuaryDenver judge ruled that the heirs to Edgar Kaiser Jr., former Broncos owner, could not purchase back any part of the franchise under a right-of-first refusal agreement.
Kaiser's estate was represented by a holdings group that petitioned the court for the right to refuse any sale of the franchise. This is back to 1984 when Kaiser sold the team and Pat Bowlen bought it. Kaiser died in 2012.
Shelley L. Gilman of Denver District ruled Kaiser's heirs did not have any claim and that the right to first refusal contained in the 1984 sale agreement between Kaiser, Bowlen, was “no longer valid and enforceable in any way.”
Officially, the franchise went up for sale on February 1.
What's the price?
The process, which includes a heavy dose of non-disclosure agreements, includes Steve Greenburg of Allen & Company as a financial adviser and Joe Leccese of Proskauer Rose LLP as a legal adviser to the trustees.
Forbes estimated that the Broncos were worth $3.75 Billion in fall 2021. However, they are likely to sell for well above $4 billion and possibly $4.5 billion. TheThe record for the highest paid NFL franchise is currently held by David Tepper. The team was purchased by David Tepper for $2.275billion in 2018. Steven Cohen paid $2.475billion to buy the team. 2020
Last month, a group was led by Todd Boehly who has an interest in theHe also owned Chelsea, the English Premier League team, for over $5 billion.
Bowlen paid $78 million to his siblings in 1984 for a controlling interest in Broncos. Bowlen purchased the shares of his brother and sister later.
Which are the top contenders for buying?
The Broncos will be receiving formal bids from a second round on Monday. Multiple sources claim that four groups were involved. However, many Broncos members privately maintain they don't know the identities of the remaining groups. This is because the trustees control the sale.
According to sources, these groups are led Walton/Harris, Ishiba, Feliciano/Eghbali.
Forbes estimates Walton's net worth at just over $59 million. This makes him a popular choice. Stan Kroenke is the owner of the, , Ann Walton, a Walmart heir, is also married to him.
Final decision: The trustees must follow the trust documents in order to accept the largest verified bid. All bids must be fully funded or capitalized by the NFL, according to interested parties. This means that all groups must have at least $2.5 million in cash on hand immediately.
Are the bidders familiar with the goods?
The potential bidders have been met by the trustees and team officials. They have seen the team's facilities and Empower Field at Mile High. They were also briefed about their place in the region.
Ellis stated publicly that a new owner must be “visible” to the team and the trustees.
Nathaniel Hackett, Broncos coach, stated earlier this week that he had spoken to “a lot” of potential bidders. He added: “After speaking to everyone, I think they all have an incredible passion and want be part of this league. They want to be part of a team. That's what I find beautiful. They want to win and want to be successful.
What is the final step to closing the deal?
The trustees may accept a bid, or move two finalists on to the next round after the latest round of bidding. Before the terms of sale are put to the league owners, the bidder must meet with the finance committee. To approve the sale, you will need to get 24 yes votes.
A special meeting could be called, and owners could vote in July/August. The vote could also take place at an owners meeting that was already scheduled after the NFL's regular season.
Ellis stated repeatedly that he believes the Broncos would have a new owner by the time they face the NFL.September 12th in the opening, but has also added “don’t hold me to that.”