Billionaires don’t grow on trees — especially the ilk that might have the wherewithal and chutzpah to purchase a home-state NFL franchise. Front Office Sports' A.J Perez revealed that the Denver Broncos might have found such a rare such beast in the form of local entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, who also happened to grow up in the Mile High City before building up a personal fortune that Forbes estimates at $6.7 billion.
Smith made his bones successfully developing his company Vista Equity Owners, which now boasts the eye-popping $86 billion in total assets under management. That’s more than enough financial clout to work within the NFL rules that stipulate that all new owners must be able to cover 30% of the purchase price in cold, hard cash.
As things stand, the current asking price for the Broncos is purportedly in the region of $4 billion, so Smith would be on the hook for $1.2 billion out of the gates. Raising that kind of capital shouldn’t prove too problematic for the 59-year-old billionaire if it is indeed his quest to become the NFL’s first-ever Black owner.
Despite Smith’s vast wealth, entering the high-stakes auction for the Broncos still doesn’t present the same star appeal to the fans that Hall-of-Fame former quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning do. Further challenges to win ownership of the Broncos might also materialize from the ranks of the truly mega-rich as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos might still have an interest despite keeping quiet prior to the bidding process.
It’s little wonder the Broncos are a hot commodity especially when you consider just how rare it is for an NFL franchise to become available to the market. Add in the fact that with the NFL now warmly embracing the new era of vast gambling revenue streams and it’s a solid bet that the value of teams could be set to skyrocket even further.
Smith might curry some favor with fans due to his PR savvy and acts of generous philanthropy and local ties, but when push comes to shove, the size of his wallet will be all that really matters.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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