It turns out Peyton Manning won’t be an NFL owner after all. While rumors were flying last week that Manning was part of the leading bid to purchase the Carolina Panthers for $2.6 billion, the team was instead sold to a different group for a considerably lower price.
Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper will become the new owner the NFL franchise after his offer of $2.275 billion – most of which will be paid in cash up front – was accepted by the league and outgoing owner Jerry Richardson.
The 81-year-old Richardson was forced to shop the team amid an NFL investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and racism in the workplace.
In the end, while his offer may not have been the highest, Tepper was the cleanest candidate who was held in the highest regard among the NFL ownership fraternity.
The Panthers’ new owner is a noted philanthropist, having donated some $3 million towards hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and Texas. That immaculate image likely played a big part in his selection, despite the fact his bid wasn’t believed to be the biggest one.
Tepper is a Pittsburgh native who has been a minority owner of the Steelers since 2009 and will have to sell that stake before purchasing the Panthers.
“I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said in a statement. “I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas.
Jerry Richardson may not have got the $2.6 billion price tag he was hoping for, but he still made a tidy profit on the sale of the team. The former NFL player bought the Panthers for just $220 million in 1993.
The reported $2.275 billion sale price for the Panthers is also a NFL and North American Sports record. The Buffalo Bills sold for $1.4 billion in 2014, while the Houston Rockets went for $2.2 billion last year.
Will the Panthers Stay Put?
Tepper’s selection is something of a surprise considering that one of Richardson’s biggest priorities was said to be finding an owner who hails from the Carolinas. The fact that he’s an outsider has raised questions about his future plans for the team.
There are pressing stadium issues which will need to be dealt with soon. The team’s lease to play at Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte expires after the 2018 season. At that point, Tepper will have to decide whether he wants to renew the agreement, build a brand new stadium, or possibly even move the team.
That’s not expected to happen, as Tepper has confirmed that he’s committed to keeping the Panther in Charlotte. However, it’s possible that, despite his deep pockets, he’ll be coming to taxpayers with his hand out before long for a sweeter stadium deal.
The sale of the team still needs to meet official league approval. That’s expected to happen at the owner’s meeting in July.