The Denver Broncos were sold on Tuesday and the new owner is Rob Walton, with his son-in-law and daughter running the day-to-day operations of the team. In his opening statement after NFL owners approved the record-setting $4.65 billion sale, Walton set the standard for his team and it seems it will mirror Pat Bowlen’s in a lot of ways.
“We want to acknowledge Pat Bowlen’s outstanding legacy, as well as the family,” Walton said. “Pat’s leadership and commitment to build a successful team and business—and we’ll continue to build on that. Putting a winning team on the field is our No. 1 priority. We can’t wait to get to Denver, join our new colleagues and get to work.
As far as NFL franchises went, the Broncos were at the top of the Walton’s list. The family has been eyeing the Broncos for the last decade.
“The Broncos are the one sports franchise that we would have considered buying,” Walton said. “Greg, as he mentioned, started a conversation some 10 years ago about it. Then the team actually announced it was for sale early this year, and we got in the middle of it first thing. We had been talking about it, and we have connections. Greg and Carrie live in Colorado, and I’ve been going to Colorado and have had a home there for long, long time. [I have] other family members there. [It’s] a great connection for us, and we’re really, really excited about it. It’s a terrific team and terrific fan base.”
Obviously, 10 years ago the team entered the trust with the goal of transferring controlling ownership over to one of Pat Bowlen’s children. The ensuing legal battle dragged on and ultimately forced the team’s sale when no agreement could be made between the Bowlen children.
One of the biggest questions fans are asking is whether or not the new ownership is going to make building a new stadium a top priority. Greg Penner was asked about that and he pretty much doused that flame with ice cold water.
“Today is really about the first step in ownership,” Penner said. |It’s premature to start talking about a new stadium. I’ll say that Empower Field at Mile High is a world-class facility. It’s hosted, obviously, football games, terrific other sporting events and entertainment events. We have a good partnership with the Metropolitan Football Stadium District and have almost 10 years left on our lease. We’ll evaluate all of our options and dig in to understand the situation before making any decision.”
The planning of and then building of a new stadium does take time. I wouldn’t be surprised if they begin the early stages of that process knowing they have 10 years left on that lease. For the most part, a 30 year old stadium likely is outdated enough to be considered up for replacement. The biggest concern will be cost to taxpayers, which will be a battle of its own. Another reason why it would be wise to wait on that until the new owners are established in the city.
Walton’s daughter, Carrie Walton-Penner, then went on to reiterate their commitment to carry on Bowlen’s legacy with the franchise. That seemed to be a big focus of their remarks on Tuesday and one that should please the ears of Broncos Country upon hearing them.
“Pat Bowlen created an incredible legacy with the Broncos, and he leaves big shoes to fill,” Carrie Walton-Penner said. “We look forward to continuing to build on that legacy as we continue to work with the community as well as within the organization to continue to strengthen what he created. We’ll do that. As we have changes that we’re making, we’ll be sure to let you all know. Right now, we’re focused on getting back to Denver tomorrow and getting started with this.”
Bowlen is revered by fans and carrying on his legacy would be a vital step in maintaining that fan sentiment with the team and the owners themselves.
The new Broncos’ owners will meet with the media again today, but the first look provided plenty of insight in where their focus is to start. The focus will be on putting a winning team on the field and honoring the franchises past and tradition. I’m down with that!