DENVER (CBS4) – After years of in-fighting and a legal battle involving the heirs of two former owners, the path is finally clear for the Pat Bowlen Trust to sell the Denver Broncos.
If and when the Broncos go up for sale, experts expect to see a record asking price and a long line of potential owners willing to pay it.
Getting to that final sale though, will involve many steps and the approval of 24 other NFL team owners. It’s a complicated and often confidential process that hasn’t happened for the team in 38 years.
“It’s billionaires, it’s big money, it’s lawyers, it’s not exactly the most captivating stuff for football fans, but it is the single biggest story surrounding the Broncos,” said Ryan Koenigsberg, the VP of content strategy for DNVR, an independent sports and lifestyle company that covers Denver teams.
While the Broncos are not officially for sale yet, Koenigsberg said an announcement could come soon. After that, the real fun starts, which includes potential buyers expressing their interest.
“The truth is, everyone who can wants to buy this team,” Koenigsberg said. “John Elway wants to be involved with an ownership group, we think Peyton Manning is going to be involved, then of course you have the other big names, Bezos, Jay Z, and Robert Smith, who is a Denver-based billionaire.”
Ultimately, the Bowlen trust will choose the best or highest bid in an auction. For potential ownership groups, at least one person must own at least 30% of the team.
After that, the final decision will be in the hands of the 31 other current NFL owners, three-fourths of whom must approve the team’s purchase.
“The owners of all the other teams have to say, yeah, we believe that person is qualified to run the team,” Koenigsberg said.
The Carolina Panthers are the last NFL team to be sold. The process took close to seven months and netted the previous owner more than $2 billion in 2018. The Broncos are expected to be worth close to double that partly due to legalized sports betting and growing TV deals.
“What’s interesting to me is I think that number could just climb and climb and climb,” Koenigsberg said.
For Broncos Country, the Bowlen era could soon be over — but what comes next is still very much up in the air.
“Fans should be crossing their fingers that you get someone who just wants to win,” Koenigsberg said. “You hope you get one who owns this team for a very long time like the Bowlens did.”