Editor’s Note: The following article represents the views of the author.
What was once thought unthinkable is now a very real prospect. The Denver Broncos might get sold.
What adds to the intrigue, and mystery, is that two implausible events could converge. And they both involve Colorado sports and sports betting in Colorado.
It’s no secret the Broncos have been a mess for five years. What has been lesser known is the future ownership of the franchise and how we got here. Given the news this week, there could be a resolution in sight in the form of a sale of the team and one that could reach a higher sum of money due to legalized gambling.
Lawsuit challenging the Pat Bowlen Trust
The former of those is why there was a lawsuit initiated by the two eldest daughters of former owner Pat Bowlen, Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace. The two daughters were challenging the Pat Bowlen Trust that consists of Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka, and Mary Kelly. That Trust has served as the de facto owner of the Broncos since Bowlen stepped away from the organization due to his bout with Alzheimer’s in 2014. Bowlen died in June 2019.
Bowlen Wallace first made her intentions public of becoming Denver’s majority owner in May 2018.
Not to get too deep into the weeds on this, but one of the legal issues that Klemmer and Bowlen Wallace were challenging was the mental capacity of Bowlen when the trust was established in 2009.
Ellis is also the president and CEO of the Broncos, while Slivka is general counsel for the organization and Kelly is a Denver attorney.
Rumors swirl around Broncos ownership sale
The trial in Arapahoe County Court was initially scheduled for Sept. 1, 2020. Then in late November, it got delayed again to July 12 of this year. In both instances, Judge John E. Scipione delayed the trial due to COVID-19.
Since the trial was a few days away, there was building intrigue as to how the case would unfold. What evidence would get presented and who would serve as witnesses, for both sides of this issue.
That leads to the major news earlier this week that the trial had been stayed and vacated. Since none of the parties involved will comment, that’s led to speculation that a sale of the Broncos was part of this arrangement.
According to Forbes, the Broncos are currently valued at $3.2 billion.
NFL owners believe legalized gambling will increase value of franchises
What does all of this have to do with sports betting?
This is where ProFootballTalk enters the conversation:
“Owners believe that, sooner rather later, the average, random team will be worth $8 billion to $10 billion, thanks to legalized gambling.”
To give you an idea of just how astronomical the Broncos’ sale price could be, the Carolina Panthers were sold to Dave Tepper in 2018 for $2.75 billion. A sale of Denver’s franchise would shatter that number.
So the fact that owners believe a random team will be worth $8 to $10 billion is incredible. That also raises the question, why did owners fight the legalization of sports betting if they thought it would increase the value of their franchises? But that’s another topic entirely.
If a sale does happen, it won’t get approved by the other NFL owners until March of next year. So this won’t happen immediately.
New owner could lead Broncos back to relevancy
Despite the fact the Broncos have been irrelevant and terrible the last five seasons, they’re no random team. Broncos Country will support this franchise through thick and thin. It’s been a little tougher than normal, but the love of the orange and blue will always prevail.
If Denver gets an owner in place that can help lead the franchise back to where everyone expects, fans will throw money at this franchise. That will also increase the excitement over betting on the Broncos, whether for futures or on a game-by-game basis.
The other factor in this is that the franchise is all-in on sports betting. Heck, even esports.
The Broncos have deals with three sportsbooks and plans to have betting lounges at the stadium. There are also discussions over a possible gaming center at Mile High.
When Mr. B was at the helm of this franchise, his goal was to be No. 1 at everything. And he did whatever it took to make that happen. It wasn’t just a catchphrase, it’s how he lived his life.
The thought the Broncos might have a new owner was once unthinkable.
The fact legalized sports betting might help push the sales price even higher is equally implausible.
If all of this does come to fruition, the hope is the new owner loves the Broncos as much as Mr. B.