Court Ruling Sets the Stage for a Possible Denver Broncos Sale

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The NFL team won the lawsuit to eliminate claims rights of first refusal in the event of the team’s sale. It removes a significant hurdle when the club can be brought to market this year.

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When a letter from a company called ROFR Holdings Ltd reached the doors of the Broncos in 2020, it shocked the team. The letter claimed that, if the team was sold, it had rights of first refusal on the potential sale.

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This claim stems from when Pat Bolan bought the Broncos from Edgar Kaiser in 1984 and Kaiser was given the first refusal right as part of the deal. Boleyn and Kaiser have died. Before his death, Kaiser had attempted to transfer the rights to an entity called ROFR Holdings, which was owned by his assets and a business called Twelve LLC, which was owned by an Arizona businessman named Scott Schirmer, who transferred Kaiser to Bowlen. with had helped in previous litigation.

ROFR Holdings’ claim was particularly relevant because of the controversial ownership status of the Broncos. Following Bolan’s 2019 death, an intra-family feud broke out between his relatives and children over who would be his successor. Before he died, Bolan had placed the team in a trust and those trustees were given a task: decide which child should become the controlling owner or sell the team if they felt it was in the best interest of the family. .

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People familiar with the matter said this created two possible outcomes. The first is that the team will be sold. The second is that Brittany Bolan, the team’s senior vice president of strategy—and Pat Bolan’s daughter—will take over. The latter scenario would require family members to agree to certain terms and potential purchases. One of the trustees, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis, previously said he expected an answer in early 2022 and added on Tuesday that a decision is anticipated once the team has hired a new coach.

“We are delighted to be putting this issue behind us and moving closer to changing ownership of the Denver Broncos,” Ellis said in a statement. “While our focus at this time is on our head coaching quest, we plan to make an announcement about ownership shortly after the hire is completed.”

A lawyer for ROFR Holdings did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

ROFR Holdings’ claim made a difficult situation even more complicated. NFL teams cost billions of dollars — the Broncos, if put up for sale, are expected to fetch record prices — and could cost millions in fees for bankers and lawyers to participate in the bid. Meanwhile, rights of first refusal give a party the right to match any bid. And those interested in buying the team were prevented from participating knowing that they could reach the finish line and watch their offer match, a paradigm that had the potential to lower the selling price.

So, in anticipation of a potential sale, the Broncos went to court. His suit argued that earlier denial rights were transferred unfairly and are no longer valid. One judge agreed, clearly writing: “The right of first refusal is no longer valid or enforceable in any way.”

This cleared an important road. That means the Broncos could be up for sale this year.

Write to Andrew Beaton at [email protected]

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