Broncos Ownership Saga: Breaking Down Beth Bowlen Wallace's Efforts to Take Control in Denver

Khadrice Rollins
Sports Illustrated

Beth Bowlen Wallace, the daughter of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, wants to take control of the team from The Pat Bowlen Trust, which was put in place by her father to determine the future controlling owner of the franchise in Denver.

On Thursday, Bowlen Wallace released a statement explaining her intentions to become the controlling owner, according to The Denver Channel. However, the trust, which is led by team president and CEO Joe Ellis, responded later Thursday saying it was not ready to pass on control of the team to Bowlen Wallace yet.

"Beth Bowlen is not the only Bowlen child who has expressed interest in becoming controlling owner," the statement from the trust said. "The trustees have informed Beth of their determination that she is not capable or qualified at this time."

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Bowlen Wallace is one of Pat Bowlen's seven children who are expected to all eventually hold an equal share of the franchise with one of the children functioning as the controlling owner who would make final decision and be the voice of the team at league meetings, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic and formerly of the Denver Post.

On Friday, Bowlen Wallace released another statement in response to the comments from the trust, saying she has met the criteria needed to become the controlling owner laid out by the trustees, and the statement added that her push to become owner is "in accordance with her father's wishes."

Why is there a trust?

Pat Bowlen announced that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in July 2014, and he created a trust to ensure a smooth transition of the Broncos' ownership to his children.

In 2014, Bowlen left control of day-to-day operations to Ellis. Ellis, along with Broncos counsel Rich Silva and Denver attorney Mary Kelly, make up the trust. The trust has the final say on whether one of Bowlen's children is prepared to take control of the Broncos, and the trio has the power to hold off on granting that power for as long as it sees fit, according to the Post.

That structure could be shifted, but it would require approval from the league and the 31 other owners, according to the Post.

When does the trust decide on a new controlling owner?

There is no set time for when the trust needs to appoint one of Bowlen's children, but the Post reports that back in February 2015 the trust sent a blueprint that included a list of requisites and a list of responsibilities for whomever takes control.

According to the Post, the qualifications to take control include having a bachelor's degree combined with an MBA, J.D. or another advanced business-related degree; five years of senior management experience with either the team, the league or Stadium Management Company; and subjective traits such as leadership, integrity and sound judgement.

What is Beth Bowlen Wallace's case?

Bowlen Wallace, 47, was formerly director of special projects for the Broncos from 2012-15, which was the highest position by title ever held with the team by one of Pat Bowlen's children. She earned a law degree in 2016 from the University of Denver.

In the statement from the Pat Bowlen Trust, it said, "We have communicated our decision with Beth and her lawyers on multiple occasions. She is also fully informed as to why her employment with the team ended in 2015."

In her statement from Friday, Bowlen Wallace mentioned serving in executive leadership for Reign Energy Partners and Joseph Energy.

What is happening with the rest of the family?

Patrick Bowlen III, 33, is the facilities coordinator at Stadium Management Company. John Bowlen, 32, was previously a marketing employee. He was placed on indefinite leave in 2015 following an arrest on domestic violence charges and later parted with the team. Brittany Bowlen, 28, works at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, but previously worked in the NFL's junior rotational program and served as an analyst in the Broncos' business department in 2015. And according to the Post, Amie Bowlen Klemmer, 48, lives in Hawaii and both Annabel Bowlen, 25, and Christianna Bowlen, 20, live in Colorado, but none of the three have ever worked with the team or stadium.

Pat Bowlen's brother John and his wife Kerry are minority owners of the team and they are supporting Bowlen Wallace's push to become controlling owner, according to The Denver Channel, as are Bowlen Klemmer and Pat Bowlen's other brother, Bill.

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