Money talks: Here’s a look at the most expensive US sports franchise sales

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It takes a lot of capital to buy an American sports team, and the impending sale of the Denver Broncos proves it.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, the Broncos on Tuesday entered into a $ 4.65 billion sale deal with the Walton-Penner family’s ownership group. The sale is being reviewed by the NFL’s Finance Committee, and 24 league owners must vote yes for the transaction to be approved.

The Walton-Penner group includes Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg Penner. The ownership group also includes Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, Chairman of the Board of Starbucks Corp. and a director at JP Morgan Chase. Walton is heir to the fortune of the retail company Walmart and served as chairman of the company from 1992 to 2015.

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Broncos sale

The historic sale of the Broncos made us think of some other landmark team acquisitions in American sports.

Here is a list of some of the most expensive franchise purchases in American sports:

Sales price: $ 4.65 billion

The Walton-Penner group’s pending $ 4.65 billion purchase of the Broncos breaks the previous record selling price for an NFL team by a large margin. Former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson sold the franchise to billionaire David Tepper for $ 2.275 billion in 2018. That’s also over $ 2 billion more than the second-closest U.S. sports team sale.

Walton’s net worth is $ 57.9 billion, according to Forbes. His cousin and another Walmart heir, Ann Walton, is the wife of Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Kroenke also owns three Colorado sports teams: the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the MLS’s Colorado Rapids.


Sales price: $ 2.4 billion

The Mets had the honor of having the most expensive team sold in American sports until the Broncos came. In 2020, hedge fund manager Steve Cohen bought the Mets for $ 2.4 billion. The Los Angeles Dodgers had previously branded as the most expensive MLB team when they sold for $ 2 billion in 2012.

Cohen is the founder of Point 72 Asset Management and now defunct SAC Capital Advisors.


Sales price: $ 2.35 billion

In 2019, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai bought Nets for $ 2.35 billion from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Tsai already had 49% ownership from Prokhorov in 2018, but accelerated the timeline for full ownership. Along with the then record purchase for Brooklyn, Tsai also bought the Barclays Center, the Nets’ home arena, in a separate transaction for about $ 1 billion.

Brooklyn is not the only New York-based sports team owned by Tsai. He bought the WNBA’s New York Liberty franchise in January 2019.


Sales price: $ 2.275 billion

The Panthers became available for sale after the 2017 NFL season after allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct were made in the workplace against former owner Richardson. Carpets, whose net worth is $ 16.7 billion according to Forbes, bought the team for $ 2.275 billion. Before Tepper took over Carolina, Tepper had a 5% stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Appaloosa founder also spent $ 325 million in 2019 to bring MLS its 30th team, Charlotte FC.


Sales price: $ 2.2 billion

Former Rockets owner Leslie Alexander sold the team to Texas native and billionaire Tilman Fertitta for $ 2.2 billion in 2019. Fertitta grew up in Galveston, Texas, and was a regular participant in Houston’s games before buying the franchise.

According to his website, he is the sole owner of Fertitta Entertainment, which owns the giant Landry’s restaurant, Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels and the Rockets. Fertitta also has her own TV show on CNBC called “Million Dollar Buyer.”



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