Former Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (R), who died in 2019, purchased the NFL franchise in 1984. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The NFL's Denver Broncos are officially listed on the market and likely will have the highest price tag in North American sports history.
The sale of the team was announced Tuesday by the Pat Bowlen Trust, which has managed the organization since Bowlen -- who died in 2019 -- stepped away from day-to-day operations of the club in 2014 due to the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. The Broncos are valued at just under $4 billion.
"The Pat Bowlen Trust announced today the beginning of a sale process for the Denver Broncos," team CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement. "We have retained Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company as our financial advisor and Joe Leccese of Proskauer Rose LLP as our legal advisor for this transition of ownership.
"Selling an NFL team is a complex process involving numerous parties and league approval procedures. Nonetheless, the trustees hope to have the sale completed by the start of the 2022 NFL season."
Bowlen purchased the Broncos from former owner Edgar Kaiser Jr. in 1984. Since Bowlen's death, his children have attempted to reach an agreement on a majority owner.
Ellis, one of three trustees overseeing the operations of the Broncos, repeatedly said over the past seven years that if Bowlen's children failed to agree on a majority owner, the team likely would be sold. That agreement between the siblings never came about -- a lawsuit between the children was set to go to trial before it was dismissed in July.
"Pat used to say the Broncos belonged to the fans and that ultimately this was their team," the Bowlen family said in a statement. "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for this incredible ride. It has been the honor of our lifetime.
"All of us know that the impact of 'Mr. B' will live on with the Broncos and in the hearts, minds and memories of the fans. We will always cheer for the Orange and Blue. Go Broncos!"
The last NFL franchise to be sold was the Carolina Panthers, who were purchased by David Tepper in 2018 for about $2.28 billion.
Joseph Tsai, meanwhile, paid $2.35 billion -- $1 billion for a 49% stake in 2017 and an additional $1.35 billion for the other 51% in 2019 -- for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, the highest price paid for a North American sports team.