End of Denver Broncos Ownership Dispute Could Lead to Team’s Sale
The Denver Broncos ownership feud came close to a resolution – and a potential sale of the club – on Monday when a judge in Arapahoe County, Colo., Dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the will from former owner Pat Bowlen, who passed away in 2019.
The complaint had been brought by two of Bowlen’s adult daughters and was at the center of a fight for control of the team between her seven children and the team leaders. The standoff dates back to 2014, when Bowlen, with Alzheimer’s disease, ceded control of the team to a trust and set the terms of the succession: three directors of the trust, led by the CEO Bronco’s Joe Ellis would pick the next principal owner from Bowlen’s heirs or sell the team.
At least two of Bowlen’s children have expressed interest in running the club. Beth Bowlen Wallace, the second eldest of Bowlen’s children from her first marriage, worked on the team for several years until her post was eliminated in 2015. Bowlen Wallace, 50, told The New York Times in 2018 that she thought she was qualified and ready. to take control.
The trust, however, suggested it was supporting Brittany Bowlen, 31, one of five children from Pat Bowlen’s second marriage who is now a cadre with the team.
Ellis said if the seven Bowlen children did not support any chosen successor, the administrators would look to sell the team.
In 2018, Bowlen’s two children from his first marriage, Bowlen Wallace and Amie Bowlen Klemmer, sued the directors of the Patrick D. Bowlen Trust, claiming their father was suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s when he created the trust, and that the trustees unduly influenced it.
On Monday, case judge John E. Scipione dismissed the case and said the trust agreement reflected Bowlen’s “intention and will” and that Ellis and the other trustees had ” full authority to administer “the trust.
Neither party to the dispute is allowed to discuss the case, and it was not immediately clear whether they had reached a settlement, which could have included an agreement between the heirs and the trust to sell the team. rather than choosing a majority owner among siblings. .
The kids have appeared together, including in 2019, when Pat Bowlen was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. But they are not united around one of them becoming majority owner despite the lawsuit being dismissed, increasing the chances of the team eventually being sold, according to a person with knowledge of family dynamics that was not allowed. to speak on their behalf. .
Dan Reilly, who represents the trustees, and Giovanni Ruscitti, counsel for Bowlen Klemmer and Bowlen Wallace, both declined to comment. A spokesperson for the team also declined to comment on the case.
When asked if the team could be put on sale, the Broncos provided a statement from Ellis.
“When it comes to the future of the Denver Broncos organization, our No. 1 priority remains a timely, responsible and orderly determination of Broncos ownership,” the statement said. “There is no change in the way the team works, which is fully focused on a successful 2021 season.”
If the directors choose to sell the team, the Broncos could reach a record price that exceeds the $ 2.2 billion paid for the Carolina Panthers in 2018. According to Forbes, the Broncos are worth $ 3.2 billion, the 11th Most Valuable NFL Franchise.
Under Bowlen’s leadership from 1984 to 2014, the Broncos became one of the league’s premier franchises, scoring 19 seasons with a record over 0.500, 12 division titles and seven Super Bowl appearances. But since winning the Super Bowl in the 2015 season, the team has seen only one winning campaign.
In January, John Elway, who as a quarterback helped the Broncos win their first two Super Bowls, stepped down as general manager after a decade on the job.
NFL teams rarely change hands and the league is by far the most successful in the country, so interest in the Broncos would likely be strong. In May, the league signed more than $ 100 billion worth of new broadcast deals, keeping all teams profitable for another decade.
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