According to reports, it is likely that we will not know who the new owner or owners of the Carolina Panthers will be for months. But what we do know is that one minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers is currently regarded as among the frontrunners to purchase the team, which is up for sale after the team’s current owner and founder was revealed to have paid former employees to settle sexual harassment claims.
According to an ESPN article published recently, David Tepper and Ben Navarro are regarded at the moment as the only true candidates anticipated to be active bidders in the sale of the 23-year-old franchise, which has recently been valued at $2.3 billion.
Darren Rovell writes that the Steelers’ minority owner, Tepper, “appears to be the most solid in terms of having the capital to put up the required 30 percent of the selling price. If the team were to sell for $2.3 billion, that means $690 million up front”.
He notes that Tepper has a net worth of $11 billion, which largely has been a byproduct of Appaloosa Management, a global hedge fund firm that he founded. “He caused an estimated $120 million tax loss for the state of New Jersey when he moved from there to Florida in 2016”, he wrote, to give perspective.
He also notes that while a few early prospective bidders have already turned down the opportunity, several others have emerged, and it is likely that ownership groups will come forward. An ownership group can include up to 25 people, provided that one owns a stake of 30 percent or more.
The sale of the Panthers could be telling regarding the state of the league in terms of how it is evaluated, relative to what an NFL franchise is worth—or it could be indicative of nothing. It is honestly hard to tell.
As Rovell points out, it is expected that there will be other opportunities in the near future to purchase NFL franchise, including the New Orleans Saints, the Tennessee Titans, and most significantly, the Denver Broncos. This could lower the buying price because of the spread of opportunities.
The author wrote that the Titans were seeking a $500 million investment for a third of the team in 2017, but only received an offer for $300 million. That could change if the Titans become a more competitive team, which would result in increased revenue.
According to the article, within the past five franchise transactions, none of sold for more than five times the annual revenue of the team. Most recently, the Buffalo Bills sold for $1.4 billion, which was a record for the purchase of an NFL franchise.
While it might be some time from now, however, as it currently stands, it seems as likely as any scenario that a Steelers minority owner will purchase another franchise, Jimmy Haslam having already done so with the Cleveland Browns, a purchase that set him back $1 billion.