Nathaniel Hackett hands full during his first season as head coach. He incorporates a new offense, builds a relationship with new star quarterback Russell Wilson and generally becomes accustomed to the daily demands placed upon his position in the NFL.
However, even with all that as the Broncos enters their third week of organized team activities, there’s no letting go of the franchise’s biggest story. With a second round of bids from candidates by the end of Monday, the organization is fast moving toward a solution in a property saga that has anticipated the better part of the past decade.
“My job is to prepare the team,” Hackett said on Monday. “For us it’s about winning, no matter who owns the team. Whoever was part of (the bidding process), it was very exciting to be (potentially) part of the Denver Broncos. We’ll see where they go.”
Who are the potential new owners?
Four groups are expected to submit bids on Monday, according to a source. This was cut from a group of about 10 who initially expressed a keen interest in buying an organization that won three Super Bowls and appeared in eight title matches.
These groups, as first reported by 9News, are led by Walmart Rob Walton, the former president of the company co-founded by his late father Sam;
Is Walton the luckiest one?
Walton, due in large part to a personal fortune estimated at more than $60 billion, is seen as the frontrunner to try to buy the franchise, which was officially put up for sale in February, since it emerged as a potential buyer in April. Forbes magazine reported Monday morning, citing banking sources, that Walton was expected to take over the team with a winning bid of around $4.5 billion, but a source said the athlete No clear lead candidate was identified prior to the submission of the second round of bidding.
That doesn’t mean it takes a big logical leap to see Walton, whose family includes many Coloradoans, as a potential candidate to win the auction-style bidding process that would put a new owner in place for the first time since Pat Bowlen bought the team in 1984 for $70 million. Approximately. The 77-year-old Walton will instantly become the richest owner in the NFL, ranking behind Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, among the richest owners of professional sports franchises in North America. Walton, who is ranked 18th on the list of the world’s richest person according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, was chairman of Walmart’s board of directors from 1992, when his father died, until 2015. He then handed the position to his son-in-law, Greg Benner, who is also part of giving. Walton is a cousin by marriage to Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams. Founded by Stan Kroenke, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment owns Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche as part of a large sports team ownership group.
NFL rules require a major investor in a franchise group to own at least 30 percent of the franchise, which Walton could easily get rid of given his wealth.
Who is most likely to challenge Walton?
Other presenters also have creative credentials, if not the same enormous wealth as Walton. Harris group, as the athlete It was confirmed last month and is also set to feature Magic Johnson, the Hall of Famer and the former Los Angeles Lakers star who is also part of the group that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to Forbes, Feliciano and Ighbali oversee $43 billion in assets through Clearlake Capital. They were a backer of Todd Boehle’s successful Premier League club Chelsea for the equivalent of roughly $5.3 billion in US currency. Ishbiah has a net worth of $4.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine, and she owns 70% of the shares of UWM Holdings, the mortgage lender his father founded in 1986.
Is there a priority to bring in a minority owner?
The NFL is watching the Broncos sales process with great interest. The league has made no secret of its desire to see minority representation within any new ownership group, but the trust that currently runs the Broncos also has a fiduciary responsibility to Bowlen’s heirs to sell the franchise at the highest price.
“We’re going to be very clear – and we already have with the Broncos – that (diversity) is something we’re looking for in the ownership group,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during his Super Bowl press conference in February. “We will certainly try to encourage that as the process continues.”
What is the sale schedule?
Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said at the NFL owners meetings in March that the team is on track to complete the sale, with final approval from the league, by the start of the 2022 season in September, a goal that appears to be on track. From the start, Ellis told reporters at the meetings, “There’s really been a huge amount of interest from a number of very qualified bidders.”
“It’s exciting for the fans,” said Ellis, who is a member of the three-person Pat D. Bowlen Trust. “The team needs a new owner. It’s time for that.”
The Broncos has been officially run by the Trust since 2014, when Bowlen stepped down as the daily leader of the franchise due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease, although Ellis and then head of football operations John Elway have begun to engage with many of those. As early as 2011. Bowlen passed away in 2019, the same year he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The trust is tasked with defining the next steps in the ownership process. The priority was to identify a qualified property candidate from among the Bollen heirs, but after years of infighting that sometimes spilled over into public opinion and a number of lawsuits, the fund announced on February 3rd. 1 that the team is officially put up for sale. It was a decision that ended at least a decade of uncertainty about the future of one of the region’s cherished institutions.
Now, the last bit of clarity is approaching. After the second round of bids are submitted and analyzed, the process could move quickly toward the league’s approval process, although the exact timeline remains unclear. Ultimately, the ownership group must be approved by the league’s finance committee and get “yes” votes from 75 percent of the league’s ownership body to formally approve it.
Hackett, who has met a “large amount” of members of potential ownership groups while on separate tours of the team’s facility and Empower Field at Mile High, said he’s excited about the future of the franchise, no matter who takes the brunt from the most venerable owner in state sporting history.
“After talking to everyone, I think they all have amazing passion and want to be part of this league and part of a team,” Hackett said. “I think this is a really nice thing. He wants to come in and win and do something great here.”
(Top image: Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)