While we are still likely a couple of months away before anything is made final, it appears as though the Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner that has previously been reported as a strong candidate to purchase the Carolina Panthers remains in the running as the bidding process reaches record levels, according to ESPN.
An article from the 21st by David Newton and Darren Rovell indicates that there are reports of the bidding to have reached $2.5 billion, which would set a new record for an American sports team. The previous record was set just last year with the sale of the Houston Rocket in the NBA for $2.2 billion.
The most recent NFL franchise that has been put up for sale was the Buffalo Bills, who only just ended a playoff drought that extended back into the last millennium. The franchise, which was in a far worse shape than the Panthers currently are, sold for $1.4 billion, which was an NFL record at the time. A few years prior to that, the Cleveland Browns sold for north of $1 billion as well.
The current sale of the Panthers is slated to demolish the previous NFL record for the sale of a franchise. While that is partly because of the circumstances under which it is being sold—that is, coercion—since franchises are typically sold while the team is struggling or following the passing of an owner, it should still be seen as an indication that the league remains seen as a solid investment.
Not that David Tepper doesn’t have money to kick around. As one of the minority owners of the Steelers (reportedly owning a five-percent share), he could potentially become the second to move on to own a majority share in another team. Current Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was also a minority owner with the Steelers.
As I have previously written about Tepper, he has plenty of money. His net worth is north of $11 billion, the majority of which he gained working as a hedge fund manager. A Pittsburgh native, he has remained close to the city, graduating from Carnegie Mellon, where a $67 million donation got his name on the Tepper School of Business.
It was reported at the start of this month that he was seen as the bigger with the “most solid footing”, but since then, a number of other bidders have surfaced, with four names in the ESPN article cited above. on bid came from a group that was said to have included Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Stephen Curry.
Should Tepper ultimately go on to win the bid to become the owner of the Panthers, it would not seriously affect the Steelers in any way, as should be implied by the term ‘minority owner’. He will be required to sell off his stock, which he may even sell directly to Art Rooney II. Aside from him, there are four other Rooneys who remain as part of a 19-man ownership group that also includes John Stallworth.