When Paul Allen died late last year, he essentially donated the Seattle Seahawks, the team he owned, to charity. With no spouse or children, Allen said the Seahawks are to be sold, with all proceeds going to the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies foundation.
Let’s take a look at the ten most expensive purchases – note that all but one have come within the past seven years. If you own a franchise, there’s never been a better time to sell.
Carolina Panthers – $2.3 Billion
The most expensive sports franchise purchase ever came just last year when hedge fund billionaire David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.3 billion from former owner Jerry Richardson. Richardson faced misconduct allegations due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct and announced he was selling the team after the 2017 season. The Panthers are just a few years removed from a Super Bowl berth, but missed out on the playoffs this season, the first under Tepper’s tenure.
Houston Rockets – $2.2 Billion
As a kid, you may have wanted to purchase a sports team. How cool would that be? You’d get to have input on personnel decisions, would get court side access to games, and would make a ton of money. Of course, most of us don’t have the financial means to own a team, but for Tilman Fertitta, he made his dream come true in 2017. He failed to buy the team when it last sold in 1993; things went better for him the second time around. He had to shell out an NBA-record $2.2 billion to do it, but he’s now a part of an exclusive club – just one of 30 owners of an NBA franchise.
Los Angeles Clippers – $2 Billion
Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling had a two-year legal battle with the NBA after a tape came out where Sterling made racist remarks about his team. Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers, and two years later, he settled his lawsuit with the NBA by selling to Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer. At the time, it was the most expensive purchase in NBA history. A very hands-on owner, Ballmer can be found on the sideline at Clippers games, cheering his team on.
Los Angeles Dodgers – $2 Billion
Guggenheim Baseball Management spent an even two billion dollars on the Dodgers in 2012. The group, which includes NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, ended the tumultuous Frank McCourt era in L.A. The Dodgers are among the best teams in baseball right now, having reached the World Series two years in a row.
Manchester United – $1.5 Billion
Malcolm Glazer purchased a majority stake in Manchester United in 2005, making this both the oldest entry on the list, in addition to the only soccer club purchase worth more than a billion dollars. The club had been under private ownership for nearly 100 years. Glazer initially started with just a 3.17 percent stake in the club, but by 2005 his family owned 98 percent. In order to purchase so much equity in the team, Glazer took on a ton of debt in the form of loans, which upset some fans. In an extremely passionate display, angry fans launched their own soccer club, F.C. United of Manchester. Glazer died in 2014, but his death hasn’t affected the club’s operations.
Buffalo Bills – $1.4 Billion
Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the Bills in 2014. At the time, there were rumors swirling around that the team would move out of Buffalo, but the Pegulas are resolute in keeping the team in western New York. Terry Pegula found success as a natural gas and real estate mogul, and while the Bills haven’t quite reached great heights in the NFL, they did break a 17-year playoff drought with a postseason appearance in 2017.
Miami Marlins – $1.2 Billion
When the Marlins were sold in 2017, the big headline was that Derek Jeter was among the ownership group. But Jeter got some help – billionaire Bruce S. Sherman helped finance the $1.2 billion deal. Sherman, who made his fortune in asset management before retiring in 2009, reportedly spent several hundred million dollars for the purchase, while Jeter put up $25 million of his own money.
Seattle Mariners – $1.2 Billion
John Stanton led a 17-person local group that wrestled majority control of the Seattle Mariners from Nintendo of America. Stanton and his group bought into the team in 1992, but didn’t gain majority control until 2016. The Mariners partnered with DirecTV in 2013 to form the regional Root Sports NW network, which was believed to add at least $200 million to the purchase price for the team.
Toronto Maple Leafs – $1 Billion
Canada’s largest telecommunication companies Rogers Communications and BCE Inc, purchased 75 percent of the Maple Leafs in 2012 for an even $1 billion, or five times the revenue of the team. Rogers and BCE previously worked together as broadcast partners during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Cleveland Browns – $987 Million
Jimmy and Dee Haslam purchased the Browns back in 2012, and the value of the team has already doubled. The future is looking bright, too. The Browns finished 7-8-1 – their best record since 2007 – and have exciting young players like Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Myles Garrett.