Franchise values could spark major changes to ownership structures

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As NFL teams become more and more profitable, they also become more and more valuable.  As one league source with detailed knowledge of the manner in which league ownership works tells PFT, they’ll eventually become too valuable for one person or family to own.

Under prior (and possibly current) rules, a single family must own at least 30 percent of a team, with at least one individual in the family owning 10 percent.  That rule arose from the reconfiguration of the Steelers’ ownership, with several members of the family who acquired legal gaming interests that conflicted with league rules selling out, and with Art Rooney II and Dan Rooney emerging as 15-percent owners who were welded together into one 30-percent stake.

In 2011, the NFL considered dropping the minimum per-family requirement to 25 percent.  It’s unclear whether the reduction was adopted.

Regardless of whether the minimum ownership stake per family is now 25 percent or 30 percent, the ever-increasing value of franchise will require further changes to the rules, because there eventually won’t be enough families with the assets to acquire a team, or with the extra cash to pay the estate taxes when the person owning the 10-percent stake passes.

It’s unclear when the problem will reach critical mass, and it’s unknown how the NFL will deal with the situation.  The easy answer will be to keep dropping the percentages for a single person or family.  This will require each family to find more and more minority owners to hold the rest of the team.

At some point, the possibility of corporate ownership will have to be considered — along with the prospect of making each team a publicly-traded corporation with shares of stock worth more than the frame-ready certificate on which the small piece of ownership is printed.

48 responses to “Franchise values could spark major changes to ownership structures

  1. @jjbo811:

    I’d love to be able to buy shares in pro teams!


    Be a packers fan. They all love to just give their money for nothing other than a non tax deductible charitable contribution towards the cheese, and a piece of paper they can frame on their wall that states “you’re a sucker”

  2. I like the little cheap shot at Packer fans in attempt to stir up the Packer haters….fail.
    The problem with the other 31 team’s situations is eventually you’ll end up with hostilities between owners of the same team and a total train wreck. Need an example? See the Los Angles Dodgers.

  3. Public ownership just won’t happen. The teams will have to open their books. Everyone knows that won’t happen as it will make the current CBA and future ones look even worse.

  4. The only sure thing is they’ll still need public money to build or renew their stadiums.

  5. Only Packer fans are dumb enough to spend money on worthless pieces of paper.

    I have a very valuable picture that I colored back in the 2nd grade, $500 is a bargain.. Which intelligent Packer fan wants to own it bad enough????

  6. The NFL will NEVER allow public offerings. We (the public) already know how much the NFL SAYS they make. If we ever found out how much they REALLY make, there would never be public funding for stadiums.

  7. No freaking way. I’m not saying the blue blood folks who own NFL teams act with the game’s best interest in mind rather than their own finances, but I trust any of them more with the game of pro football than a CEO who answers to a board of shareholders.
    The last thing the game needs is an increased emphasis on profit margins, and that’s what you’d get with publicly held clubs. A team owning family can afford to take losses on the operation and be okay for a while in a way that a CEO working to keep his job, and a multitude of investors could not.
    In a corporate owned NFL clubs might do the most heinous of acts without batting an eye, just because they are truly obligated to their shareholders. Yes I’m talking about sponsors on jerseys…

  8. As much as I dislike the fact the Packers are the only team allowed to do this, it is a cool thing.

    Not having the worthless paper certificate but the fact that they can do it.

    It should be something of some value like a brick with your name on on the stadium or on a walk way. Something that is there forever or at least in your lifetime. If the stadium gets demolished, it can be moved to the now one or you or your dependents can get it.

  9. Maybe these franchises should just go public and sell shares like a corporation, similar to the Green Bay Packers, only that in this case, the shares would have a real return on investment, rather than symbolic…

  10. I’d like to see the soaring value of NFL franchises end forever all discussions of public stadium financing. But I’m not naive enough to believe it will ever happen.

  11. Iknoweverything says:
    Jul 19, 2013 11:02 AM
    Only Packer fans are dumb enough to spend money on worthless pieces of paper.

    I have a very valuable picture that I colored back in the 2nd grade, $500 is a bargain.. Which intelligent Packer fan wants to own it bad enough????


    Buying Packer stock is no different than you buying a jersey or any other collectible item for your favorite team.

    I bet if YOUR team sold them you’d be the first in line.

  12. You would think that these local communities would get smart and start demanding a share of the ownership of these franchises every time they come begging for welfare to build new stadiums…

  13. Maybe I’ll understand better after my 3rd cup of coffee but I don’t understand two things:

    Primary Q: What do you think there’s going to be a shortage of filthy rich people/families? I’m quite confident The 1% is going to outnumber 32 franchises. You don’t have to be a Wall St. protestor to see that.

    Whiny Q: WHY is it unclear the reduction was adopted? The NFL refuses to discuss? Ownership refuses to discuss? …’inquiring minds want to know… I want to know’.

  14. If Buffalo were allowed to be publicly traded, the team would never have a worry again. EVERYONE in a 100 mile radius will be at the teams door ready to fork over for a share or 30.

    I personally love this idea. Publicly trade the teams but keep a president in place, the majority owner, to make decisions for the team.

  15. All this talk about how freakishly massive the NFL is…

    I think we tend to overestimate what an NFL Franchise is worth relative to other businesses. I live in a major metro area with an NFL team in the Midwest.

    Lets assume the average NFL team generates $250 to $300 million in annual revenue, all told. Seems like a big number until you consider that in an area large enough to support an NFL team there might be literally dozens of privately held companies that generate that in sales, or more. A lot of these companies are passed down from family members to family members, and some of them get sold to financial or strategic buyers from time to time. Their ownership structures can be complex, too. Somehow they manage. They also tend to make money and hire people without billions of dollars in public subsidy.

    Compared to a lot of these private companies that actually make things, or provide a service, an NFL franchise is just, well… average.

    It might be a lot sexier than a company that sells air conditioning parts, or makes tiny plastic gaskets to go into medical equipment, or paves roads, or develops e-commerce solutions for businesses, but an NFL franchise doesn’t add all that much to the economic vitality of a region compared to these quiet money companies.

    And as far as the option to go public? I think a lot of these owners would find the experience overrated, once they understand the amount of public disclosure and risk they incur.

  16. Just what we don’t need….corporate logos on the jerseys like those stupid NASCAR uniforms.

  17. Private ownership of teams should be abandoned. The League should be remade as a publicly traded entity. Anyone should be able to own stock (if they can afford it). A board of directors can determine how team management should be rated, and how to replace under-performing staff.
    The CBA and players union should be scrapped too. The draft and contract system is restraint of trade. Players should be able to negotiate with any team from the start.

  18. High inheritance taxes make it difficult to pass on NFL team ownership to your family. There are huge capital gains to pay based on the cost the previous owners paid for the franchise. Ralph Wilson bought the Buffalo Bills for $25,000. Forbes has them listed as being worth $792 million.

  19. I don’t see the relevance to this and the stadiums.

    In MN, the Vikings will use the new stadium 10 or 11 times in a year. Every other event held there will be making money for the state/county/city.

    The stadium will make more money for them in the long run than it will for the Vikings. Now if the Vikings were the only tenant (sort of like the Twins stadium minus a few concerts and other things) it would be different to ask for that much money.

  20. I am no Packers fan but I have to laugh at people bagging on them for purchasing “stock” in their team.

    Because how someone else spends their money is your concern…

  21. Why I’m a proud Packers stock holder.

    Growing up in as an only child in the early 90′s, I was first introduced to a lot of ideas and concepts from popular television shows. One of the shows that impacted my childhood was The Wonder Years. For those of you unfamiliar with The Wonder Years, the show centered around a kid growing up in the 1970′s and facing all the challenges surrounding adolescence and beyond. I felt connected to Kevin, the character played by Fred Savage, because he was close to my age and because his problems related to what I was or would soon be going through. Whether it be riding a bike, dealing with personal loss, or just the idea of kissing a girl, I could relate to what Kevin went through.

    I also remember The Wonder Years because Kevin always had a way of passing on good advice. One thing he said that stuck with many fans of the show was “memories are a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” When we remember back to some of the happiest and saddest parts of our lives, we remember who we were with, and how they made us feel. People hold on to memories because, ultimately, we are only made up of our experiences and interactions with others.

    I bring this up because there has been a lot of backlash about the Packers selling stock certificates to fans, with the promise of any stockholder being able to call themselves an “NFL owner”. We’ve all heard the comments by now. “I wish (insert team name here) could sell stock and raise money off idiot fans”, or “Green Bay has the smartest front office and the dumbest fans in the league, who would throw away $250 for a piece of paper that is worth nothing”.

    In a sense, yes, the stock certificate is worth less than the postage used to ship them. But in another sense, the stock is worth so much more than $250.

    To many Packer fans around the country, myself included, the stock sale gave us a tangible way to hold onto the things we love, the things we are, the things we never want to lose. We always remember who we were with at cherished moments in our life, but what we were doing is sometimes just as special. Like many fans, I can remember the first Packer game I attended (August 11th, 1996) and who I watched the game with (my father, uncle and cousin). I remember almost getting ticketed by Green Bay police while trying to scalp tickets before the Divisional playoff game in 2007, a game where my friends and I sat in a blizzard with MVP painted on our shirtless chests to watch Brett Favre earn what would turn out to be his final win as a Packer. I remember partying to the wee hours of the morning on State Street with friends and fans alike after winning Super Bowl XLV, many people drunk on the thrill of victory more than the beer that flowed so freely that February night.

    Forty years from now, while I’m all but certain these won’t be my dearest memories, I know those experiences will never be forgotten. Without the Packers, some of my favorite experiences never would have been possible. I won’t always have my dad, but I’ll always remember him taking me to my first Packer game. I know that it will be tough to keep in touch with my friends who went to the playoff game with me, but we’ll always have the memory of those big white snowflakes melting as they landed on our bare shoulders and chests that cold Lambeau afternoon.

    I have no shame in admitting that I love the Packers. While it may be a different love than the love I have for some of the people in my life, it’s a much stronger bond than the love that is casually thrown around in conversations like “I love the movie Forrest Gump”, or “I love the way my hips look in these jeans”.

    For me, buying stock was, in many ways, a way to further my connection with the team as well a chance to thank the Packers for all they have meant to me growing up. The stock was purchased for me by money left by my late grandfather, which in itself will become another memory of him. Looking at the stock certificate will forever connect me to family as much as it connects me to the Packers.

    There will always be people who will never understand why someone would spend $250 on something that, in their mind, is worthless.

    To me, the stock is a culmination of the memories I’ve shared with so many people along the way. To me, the stock, and the memories, are priceless. They are something I love, something I want to hold onto, something I never want to lose.

  22. wow I would be shocked if none of these owners and family members are not incorporated , and the family are not the shareholders.

  23. @midwestsportstalk….the same people bagging on you for your $250 “stock” are the same ones that spend that much and more on jerseys or memoribilia. Don’t sweat it.

  24. Gosh would I love to see some major reform along this issue. Oh happy days if professional football can ever figure out how to take all of the financial related complaints and concerns away. Then that would open the door for maximum efficient growth and enjoyment of the game by all participants and audience members. The NFL has an amazing future unlike anything anybody can imagine if they can ever acquire a leadership to take them down the path of greatness from a business perspective.

  25. @midwestsportstalk–Is your real name Tolstoi?

    (I agree with 49erstim, BTW. Those who like to insult people owning Packers stock certificates likely do so more as a result of being anti-Packers than any other reason.)

  26. Do you non-Packer fans actually believe people who have bought “stock” (I haven’t) think the person believes they have any say in what the organization does? It’s just something cool to frame and put on the wall.

    Jealousy breeds envy. Envy breeds hate. Keep it comin’ haters. GO PACK GO!

    Best part is all the haters are probably the same 40 year olds who own 4 different authentic jerseys ($250) and wear them on game days, lol! I’d much rather have some piece of paper framed up on my wall saying I “own” part of the Packers then look like an idiot. But hey, to each their own…

  27. Thank god! These owners are funneling money all the tax payer money to buy new stadiums and upgrades, while the cities themselves suffer. The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy after paying for Ford Field. New owners in Tampa please! During the housing crisis, Tampa Bay had everyone’s home taken away to the Banks who flipped them to their buddy contractors so the can flip then and get kick-backs… This all after we paid for 100% of Raymond James Stadium and upgrades. The Glazers paid nothing!!!

  28. Just do what blind-faith Packer fans do. Cough up $10,000 each for a stock certificate that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

  29. A little quick interent research:

    Mid-1980’s – Lead owner must own 30%. Previously was 51% for lead owner.

    2004 – Lead owner could be 20% as long as rest of family owned at least 10% more (at least 30% total for the family)

    2009 – Family 20% with one lead owner in the family at least 10%

    There were issues many years ago because the Vikings had 10 owners (I believe with equal shares). The finally ended up selling partially due to pressure from the NFL. Not sure if they were part of the reason some of the earlier rules were put in or not.

    As to the “concern” that inheriting new owners may not be able to pay this taxes, “Boo hoo”. Selling your share, pay the taxes, and never have to worry about money the rest of your life (unless you live like too many ex-players and blow it all).

  30. 100,000,000 of us should chip in five bucks and buy a team. then we can get indicted for fraud connected to fuel rebates.

    i think that’s how it works.

  31. They’ll have no choice but to make changes. Unless they want to become like European soccer clubs which are being bought up by Sheiks and Russian billionaires.

  32. HAHA Packers stockholder suckers who get to vote Directors that run the team in or out. It’s way better to sneer and cheer your owner’s new yacht purchase and then wonder if your team will end up in Mexico City.

  33. >darthsaint says: Jul 19, 2013 10:51 AM

    >Just what we need. Corporate America running the NFL.


    LOL who do you think has always owned them? Lamar Hunt and Carroll Rosenbloom weren’t exactly blue collar workers.

  34. How many of you who are scoffing at the Packers “shareholders” (as they call us) get to attend the annual meeting of your team next Wednesday? Afterwards, we can meet and ask questions of the team president (Mark Murphy), and the general manager (Ted Thompson), tour the brand new stadium addition, and get a special “bonus,” In years past, this has been a tour of the locker room, a tour of the indoor practice facility, etc. A good day of football activities with good friends. How many of you Green Bay bashers ever get to do that with your teams? Yeah, I thought so. Enjoy your day at work next Wednesday.

  35. As a life-long Packers fan, I enjoy reading posts from bitter Vikings fans the most – hilarious, sore little losers. Year after year after year, it never ends. We don’t care what anyone thinks. Ted and Rodgers won a ring and shoved it in Favre’s ass, and that’s all that will ever matter.


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