Four groups submitted bids in advance of the Monday evening deadline, according to multiple league sources, who were granted anonymity because the process is private. Of those four, three are considered competitive, the people said.
Walton is believed to be the favorite, due to his immense wealth and connections to Colorado. The group led by Harris, who co-owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, includes Magic Johnson. The consortium led by Clearlake Capital co-founders Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano includes noted sports investors Mark Walter and Todd Boehly.
It’s unclear who the fourth group is, or how high the offers are. This week’s bids are not binding, nor are they final, but they do provide more insight into what will likely be the most expensive franchise sale in sports history.
Representatives for the Broncos and Allen & Company, which is selling the team, declined to comment.
Walton is worth about $60 billion, which would make him the NFL’s richest owner by a factor of three. He also owns several properties in Colorado, and his inclusion in this process could easily cool interest from others moving forward. The team is being sold by the trust of late owner Pat Bowlen, which has a fiduciary obligation to sell to the “highest qualified bidder.”
It’s created an interesting dynamic among some Broncos bidders. If any of the other groups believe they might be interested in the next NFL team to hit the market, they could conclude that a bidding war with Walton would be a fruitless endeavor that also drives up the price for future NFL teams.
Regardless, the Broncos are likely to fetch the largest price ever paid for a professional sports franchise. That’s currently the $3.3 billion Joe Tsai spent to purchase of the Brooklyn Nets and the rights to operate the Barclays Center, which closed in 2019. Sportico currently values the Broncos at $3.8 billion, and the expectation is that the Broncos will sell for more than $4 billion.