The Carolina Panthers could roughly double the NFL’s record for most expensive franchise when the team is eventually sold, according to a report Thursday.
The Panthers, who went on the market last January after current owner Jerry Richardson agreed to sell the team amid workplace misconduct allegations, could fetch anywhere from $2.3 billion to $2.8 billion, experts told the Charlotte Observer. That price range could shatter the NFL’s previous record, established when the Buffalo Bills sold for a reported $1.4 billion in 2014.
Several potential billionaire bidders have already emerged for the franchise, according to various reports. The NFL Network reported that hedge funder David Tepper and former Citigroup executive Ben Navarro had each expressed interest in the team, while CBS Sports reported Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, best known as the former owners of Ultimate Fighting Championship, could be in the mix. Rapper Diddy and NBA star Stephen Curry have also publicly discussed a potential bid.
The Panthers ranked 21st among NFL teams with a $2.3 billion valuation, according to calculations by Forbes. The average NFL team is valued at $2.5 billion.
At present, the NBA’s Houston Rockets hold the record for largest franchise sale among the major U.S. sports. Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, a cousin of the Fertitta brothers, paid $2.2 billion for the franchise last September.
Richardson purportedly owns a 48% stake in the Panthers. He would earn more than $1 billion if the team sells for $2.3 billion.
While the NFL allows for groups of investors to buy an NFL franchise, the top-line partner must pay at least 30% of the purchase price. Prospective buyers must also gain approval from the league office.