Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, her daughter and vice-chair Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Ron Wood told reporters that there was outside interest from potential buyers, but never any serious consideration to sell, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Ford's husband, William Clay Ford, purchased the team in 1963. He died in 2014 at the age of 88 and it was announced that she would have controlling interest of the team, with children holding a small stake. According to Forbes, the Lions are valued at $1.95 billion and were ranked No. 31 on the magazine’s latest list of the NFL's most valuable teams. The Carolina Panthers were recently sold for $2.275 billion.
"We've been approached about interest in buying the team, but there's been no serious discussions and the Ford Family plans to own the team and there's [succession] plans in place," Wood said, declining to provide details of the succession plan.
Detroit has been one of the NFL's least successful teams. The Lions have only made the playoffs three times since 2000 and have not gotten farther than the wild card round. Detroit was last in the NFC championship game in 1991 and never made a Super Bowl. Detroit's last championship came in 1957.
Rumors about the Ford family selling the team have swirled. Local broadcaster Eli Zaret claimed Bezos had been to Detroit "under the dark of night" to meet with ownership about a potential buy, according to the Free Press. However, Wood refuted the rumor Tuesday, saying he only met with the billionaire once and it was unrelated to a sale.
Financial experts told Lions Maven it would be in Martha Firestone Ford’s best interest to keep the team because of the large capital gains that would be owed from a sale.