The Denver Broncos are about to be sold.
Pat Bowlen’s reign as one of the best owners in the NFL technically already came to a close in 2019 when he passed away due to Alzheimer’s Disease, but the Bowlen Trust has been controlling the team since then. For 38 years, Bowlen exuded winning and leadership as an NFL owner.
In recent years, the NFL has made it clear they want one majority owner of each team. That much was made clear by the 2020 sale of the Tennessee Titans, in which Susie Adams Smith sold her share of the team to the family controlled KSA Industries, setting up her sister Amy Adams Strunk as the continuing majority owner with a 50% share.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the NFL wants a family/owner to control at least a 30% share in the team. Which is why when the Bowlen children couldn’t decide on one, sole owner, and now the team is looking to be sold before the 2022 season kicks off.
So, now the bidding war is on.
The NFL is motivated to sell to the highest bidder, and that being the case, Robson Walton — son of Sam Walton of Walmart fame — seems to be a frontrunner to buy the Broncos. Per 9News, their sources say Robson Walton is interested in owning the team.
With a personal net worth around $70 billion, being a known quantity as a former head of Wal-Mart and the in-laws of LA Rams owner Stan Kroenke; it’ll take a lot for someone to beat out Walton.
Now 77 years old, Rob Walton was the Chairman of the Board for Walmart from 1992-2015. He’s also been a successful real estate investor, and with Kroenke — an NFL owner — being married to his sister Ann Walton Kroenke, that will only help his bid to own the Broncos.
Denver’s preeminent team, the Broncos, will be sold for north of $4 billion this year. If there’s a true bidding war, that number could swell.
According to Forbes, the Broncos were the 10th-most valuable team before the 2021 season kicked off, being worth $3.75 billion. If Denver’s team is sold for $4.5 billion, which many expect it will, that would put the Broncos into the Top-5, below the Cowboys, Giants, Patriots and Rams.
Walton isn’t the only person looking to make an incredibly large investment in the NFL, and Joe Ellis said at the recent NFL owners meetings that between 5-and-20 potential owners have emerged.
According to Bloomberg, that list consists of: Media mogul Byron Allen, 76ers owner and part Steelers owner Josh Harris, Clearlake Capital Group founders Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano, and Feliciano’s wife Kwanza Jones and finally Alec Gores, Dean Metropoulos and Mat Ishbia are exploring an offer.
Denver native Robert Smith has been mentioned as a potential owner, but there have been legal issues swirling around Smith and his business dealings, and Bloomberg said he’s currently not interested.
There have been conflicting reports about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and rap mogul Jay-Z pulling together a bid, but last October news came out that said Bezos isn’t interested in buying the Broncos any more.
Broncos fans are likely most interested in two different ownership groups which would include Peyton Manning and John Elway separately. Neither Elway nor Manning made enough money as NFL players to be the majority owner of the Broncos, if they were to win the bid, but that would be awesome for Broncos fans.
There’s also a group of crypto currency enthusiasts who believe they can buy the Broncos, but that’s an even longer shot than Elway or Manning’s groups winning.
As for now, there are only more questions than answers surrounding the next owner of the beloved Denver Broncos. The “who” is critically important. After that, the “what” is crucial.
What will the next owner look to do with the team? They won’t move the Broncos out of Denver — the team is strategically placed in the Mountain Time Zone and middle of the country, with a rich history of winning — but will the new owner build a new stadium?
Will the new owner look at the Broncos as simply a business opportunity and a way to maximize profits or will they act like Bowlen did, and set a standard of “Super Bowl or Bust?” Would a Walmart heir run the Broncos like…Walmart? That one is difficult to answer, especially for a person like Walton, who’s never owned a team at any level.
For now, all Broncos fans can do it relish in the success their new general manager George Paton has been enjoying. His first-ever draft as a GM was considered the best in the NFL, he hired intelligent offensive mind Nathaniel Hackett as the new head coach and made the biggest trade in league history, landing Russell Wilson as the Broncos QB.