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Denver Broncos' Ownership Search Tease: Not Exactly a Fire Sale

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  • Denver Broncos' Ownership Search Tease: Not Exactly a Fire Sale

    Denver Broncos' Ownership Search Tease: Not Exactly a Fire Sale

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    On March 28, after months of speculation about a new owner for the Denver Broncos, Joe Ellis, the franchise's CEO and president, offered what 104.3 The Fan described as "his most extensive comments yet" on the subject. But the information he offered wasn't nearly as hot as the fire that consumed some Empower Field at Mile High suites and seats on March 24. Ellis insisted that lots of folks want to pay what's been estimated as $4 billion-plus for the team, but named no names and offered only a vague time frame for such a transaction to be finalized.

    In other words, the Broncos are continuing to stoke interest in a deal while conducting the process in secret.

    The team has gotten good at such stealth lately. As the gossip mill focused on the dimming prospects that Denver would be able to obtain the services of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, general manager George Paton was quietly negotiating with the Seattle Seahawks on a trade for Russell Wilson, who's both a former Super Bowl winner and the most Jesus-y footballer to hit the Mile High City since Tim Tebow.

    The Broncos confirmed widespread speculation that the outfit would be put on the block with this February 1 statement:
    The Pat Bowlen Trust announced today the beginning of a sale process for the Denver Broncos. We have retained Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company as our financial advisor and Joe Leccese of Proskauer Rose LLP as our legal advisor for this transition of ownership.

    Selling an NFL team is a complex process involving numerous parties and league approval procedures. Nonetheless, the trustees hope to have the sale completed by the start of the 2022 NFL season.

    The Broncos are a special franchise that is part of the fabric of this region, and whoever emerges as the new owner will certainly understand what the team means to our great fans and this community.
    The next day, Westword published a roundup of possible buyers that included those who'd become the subject of public speculation (Jeff Bezos, Jay Z, billionaire Robert F. Smith, Peyton Manning, John Elway) and some wished-for alternatives — such as transforming the Broncos into a publicly owned nonprofit corporation in which fans could buy shares.

    Ellis didn't exactly narrow down this field in his recent comments. He said he thought it was realistic to think a new owner could be in place by the start of the 2022-2023 season but added, "Don't hold me to that as a guarantee." He maintained that "there’s really a significant amount of interest from a number of very, very qualified bidders, in my opinion," but stressed that "I can’t disclose any of them.... That’s not going to happen. We’ve all signed non-disclosure agreements and have sworn to confidentiality, so I’m going to honor that."

    He did note that having a buyer who engages with the community is among the "characteristics I think are important, and they're being relayed to the prospective buyers."

    In the meantime, the March 24 construction-related fire at Empower Field, which damaged fourteen suites and around 200 club seats, prompted one prominent Broncos fan to make the following observation on Twitter:

    True enough — and the Broncos apparently prefer the process of lining one up to be as clear as the black smoke above last Friday's mini-blaze.