Broncos ownership candidates narrowed to 5, rumored Top 3 revealed

Josh Harris in 2019. Credit: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports.
Josh Harris in 2019. Credit: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports.

The Denver Broncos are soon to be in the hands of a new owner. Well, ownership group.

But, who will it be?

As we said earlier in April, Robson Walton looks to be the frontrunner, and that’s now been confirmed by multiple different reports. According to a report from Sportico, the larger group of 5-20 groups of bidders has been cut to only five.

Among those five, Rob Walton — the 17th-richest person in the world with nearly $70 billion — is the frontrunner per Benjamin Allbright and Troy Renck. It makes sense that he would be considered in the No. 1 spot because of that incredible wealth, as the NFL must take the best offer possible for the Broncos.

In 2018, the Carolina Panthers were sold for $2.275 billion, which remains the record sale price for an NFL team. The Broncos sale will nearly double that, or could double that number, when all is said and done.

The team is worth around $4 billion, but many are expecting the bidding to go to at least $4.5 billion, and maybe higher.

Per NFL rules, the primary owner must have a 30% stake in the team, or at least $1.35 billion (if sold for $4.5 billion total).

But, outside of Walton — the former Chairman of the Board of Walmart from 1992-2015 — who are the others among the Top 3?

The other two are Josh Harris and Todd Boehly, and each of them have something that Rob Walton doesn’t; they are each owners or investors in professional teams currently.

Harris is the NHL’s New Jersey Devils owner, and he’s the co-founder and managing partner of an investment group which bought the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA in 2011. That sale was for $280 million.

Then, in 2013, the same investment group — led by Harris — won a bid for the aforementioned Devils as well as the Prudential Center where they play, for $320 million. But their sports ties don’t end there. They also have an 18% share of Crystal Palace F.C., they own an NBA G-League team, an AHL team and have a less than 5% stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, if the Harris investment group wins the bidding war for the Broncos, they will have to change how those teams are owned as Harris won’t be able to own them and the Broncos per league rules.

Boehly is also involved in both American and overseas sports. He owns a 20% share of the Los Angeles Dodgers and partially owns the LA Sparks WNBA team. Boehly also made an attempt to buy the Chelsea F.C. in 2019 for $3 billion, but was turned down. Now he’s mounting that effort again with a Russian Oligarch being sanctioned due to Russia’s brutal, war-crime-filled attack of Ukraine and the following UK sanctions.

Boehly and a partner own a 27% share of the Los Angeles Lakers and he’s also the owner of DraftKings.

So, clearly both Boehly and Harris have extensive experience in owning professional sports franchises, while Walton has zero in that department.

What Walton does have going for him is being in-laws with Stan Kroenke, who owned the Pepsi Center, Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets until he was forced to sell them to his son Josh after purchasing the LA Rams. Sure, your brother-in-law owning an NFL team doesn’t mean you’ll make a great owner, but, it must be noted that the owners will vote on the next purchase of the Broncos. It seems likely Kroenke will campaign for his brother-in-law to win.

And if they had to be ranked, we’d go: 1. Walton, 2. Harris and 3. Boehly.

But, clearly nothing is decided as of yet. That Sportico piece said all of the Top 5 will be visiting Dove Valley and the Mile High City in May.

Still, it’s expected the Broncos will have a new owner in place by the time the 2022 season kicks off, and possibly by the time Training Camp starts in July.

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