Rob Walton group agrees to buy Broncos for $4.65 billion

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with the Denver Broncos, the team announced late Tuesday evening.

Walton, his daughter, Carrie, and his son-in-law, Greg Penner, are leading the ownership group. The Walton-Penner group has agreed to pay $4.65 billion, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That marks the most expensive price ever paid for a U.S. sports team, more than doubling the $2.275 billion David Tepper paid for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

The Walton-Penner group will also include “one or two” of Rob’s grandchildren, according to KUSA-TV’s Mike Klis. The Walton-Penner group also announced Tuesday evening that Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson will join the team’s new ownership group as well.

Hobson is a Black businesswoman who serves as Chair of the Board of the Starbucks Corporation and as a director of JPMorgan Chase. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in February that the league had encouraged the Broncos to sell to a diverse ownership group.

Rob Walton will serve as the controller owner of the team but Greg and Carrie Penner will oversee day-to-day operations, according to Klis. There’s been no official word yet on if Peyton Manning might be involved.

While the two sides have agreed to the sale, it’s not yet official. The sale will have to be approved by the NFL’s finance committee and by a majority of league owners (at least 75%). The sale is also subject to the satisfaction of customary closing procedures. The process could take several weeks or perhaps even a few months to finalize, but the sale is expected to be approved.

Former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen bought the team from Edgar Kaiser for $78 million in 1984. When his health began to decline, Bowlen set up a trust — led by Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly — to run the team and ideally pass on ownership to one of his children when a qualified candidate emerged.

Bowlen stepped down from his day-to-day duties in 2014 due to his battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and he died in 2019. A three-time Super Bowl champion, Bowlen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame less than two months after his death.

The Pat Bowlen Trust had been grooming one of Bowlen’s daughters, Brittany, to become the next owner, but not all of her siblings could agree on Brittany becoming the controlling owner. So the trust opted to sell the team, with each of Bowlen’s seven children set to receive about 11% of the sale price.

Ellis announced the team was going up for sale in February and the winning bid was accepted on June 7.

Broncos general manager George Paton and head coach Nathaniel Hackett will continue to run the team’s on-field operations.

Some of the first topics addressed by the new owners might include new (or at least revamped) uniforms and the possibility of a new stadium. Walton might want to build a modern new stadium to improve the feasibility of hosting a Super Bowl and other events in the future. As for the uniforms, Denver fans (and quarterback Russell Wilson) are partial to the team’s 1990s throwback look.

With a new owner, an energetic new coach and a new star quarterback, the future looks bright for the Broncos.

Follow the Broncos Wire Podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts