ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Todd Boehly would have to pull off an upset if he is to become the next owner of the Denver Broncos.
9NEWS reporting in recent weeks suggests Walmart heir and former chairman and attorney Rob Walton, with help from his son-in-law and current Walmart chairman Greg Penner, as the bidder to beat.
Apollo private equity co-founder Josh Harris, who also owns the NBA 76ers and NHL Devils, is also firmly involved with the Broncos’ auction sale process and is prepared to make this a two-horse race.
Sources tell 9NEWS the Broncos’ final purchase price may approach $5 billion – up from the estimated $4 billion that was floated when the auction began on Feb. 1.
Sportico recently reported Walton, Harris and Boehly are among the five finalists who have submitted non-biding offers to buy the Broncos and have advanced to the next round.
9NEWS confirmed that the prospective buyers who are still in the mix will set up appointments to tour the Broncos’ facilities and meet with team management, although those visits may come a tad later than early May.
A source also tells 9NEWS there are at least five prospective bidders who have advanced to the next stage of the process, but there may be one or two more.
One or more of the finalists have made at least preliminary inquiries about the possibility of building a new stadium for the Broncos, according to multiple sources.
While Empower Field at Mile High is still relatively young at 21 years old, the latest NFL trend is to develop mix-use neighborhoods around extravagant palaces.
9NEWS has previously identified Walton, Harris and Boehly as prospective bidders on the Broncos’ franchise, which is going up for sale following the 2019 death of previous owner Pat Bowlen and the resolution of lawsuits that Bowlen family members brought against his trustees.
The team was most recently valued by $3.75 billion last fall by Forbes, but an auction bidding process has a way of driving up the price.
Walton is the favorite because he has a reported net worth of $70 billion, give or take a few million. Josh Harris’ wealth has been pegged somewhere between $5.6 billion and $8 billion. But Harris has also been connected with billionaire partners in previous deals. Same for Boehly, whose personal net worth has been reportedly listed at between $4.5 billion and $5.4 billion.
It will be difficult for Boehly to win a multi-billion bidding process from Harris, much less Walton, but it’s not just the favorites who run in the Kentucky Derby. And the favorites don’t always win.
9NEWS has previously profiled Rob Walton and another ownership candidate, Byron Allen. We take a closer look at what Boehly would bring to the Broncos if he were to somehow, some way, wind up as the team’s next owner:
Todd Boehly may know more about finance than sports.
But he’s proven to be a quick study in sports.
It was through his interest in media rights that led Boehly to became part of a consortium that bought the Major League Baseball powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.
Boehly, 48, reportedly owns a 20% interest in the Dodgers with his longtime investment partner Mark Walter serving as the controlling owner. Former NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson is another minority partner in the group.
Starting in 2013, a year after the Walter-Boehly group took control, the Dodgers began a run of eight consecutive National League West titles – as the Colorado Rockies are well aware – until the Giants snapped the streak last year by going 107-55 to edge out the 106-56 Dodgers.
The Dodgers have also played in six NL Championship Series in that span, won three National League pennants and in 2020 won the World Series.
A big reason for the Dodgers’ dominance is they have ranked No. 1 in major-league payroll in six of the past nine seasons, including this season where their total player salaries come in at – gulp! -- $285.7 million. (The Rockies are about average with a $138.3 million payroll per Spotrac.).
So take heart, Broncos fans: Boehly and his partners have consistently demonstrated a willingness to pay whatever cost necessary to put a championship-product on the field.
“I think it starts from the governance and the culture,’’ Boehly said last June in an interview with Yahoo.com’s Influencer show. “I think we've got a really good group of owners who understood that we have a great market and that this market wants to win. And having Earvin Johnson as our partner, he just pounded in on us all along like we have to win. If we're in LA, you have to win.
“We did a lot of transactions early on. We did the biggest trade ever with the Boston Red Sox. So we got Adrián González, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and that really was a jolt of energy because ultimately we wanted to get fans back into the stadiums. We wanted to feel passionate about winning. And you always just have to keep remembering that the fans (are) the center. And the second that you kind of veer, just go back to think about the fans, think about the fans.
“And if you're always wearing the fans' eyes, and thinking about it from that perspective and you have the good fortune of also having a major market like Los Angeles, those two things go together very nicely.’’
The fans’ eye in the Denver market will work, too.
Boehly and his wife Katie and three children live in Connecticut. A phone call to his home for this story went unreturned. He grew up in Maryland, was a high school wrestler and graduated from William & Mary.
He got his professional start in the banking/credit investing and in 2015 founded Eldridge Industries, a Greenwich, Conn.-based financial service company that oversees $40 billion of assets across eight lines of business – insurance, asset management, technology, mobility, sports and gaming, media and music, real estate, and consumer landscapes.
He’s invested in Chuck E. Cheese, DraftKings and Bruce Springsteen’s music rights. His MRC media company owns Dick Clark Productions, and Billboard-Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone and Variety publications.
Boehly and another of his investment partners, Hansjorg Wyss, have been trying to buy the Premier League’s Chelsea soccer team. Their takeover bid for $3 billion a couple years ago was rejected. But Boehly and Wyss are still trying. It would seem unlikely for Boehly to have the financial means to buy Chelsea soccer and the Broncos simultaneously. But that’s for another day.
Boehly’s relatively modest net worth – at least compared to Rob Walton -- likely means he has partners in his bid to buy the Broncos. Wyss is reportedly worth $5.2 billion and while Walter is worth $4.5 billion if Boehly needs to raise some capital.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports