Broncos Journal: Eventual sale price would shatter current NFL record of $2.275 billion
Notes and analysis about the Broncos after the July 12 trial matching Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace against their father’s trustees was vacated.
Notes and analysis about the Broncos after the July 12 trial matching Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace against their father’s trustees was vacated:
1. Now what? That was the main question I asked Tuesday night to attorneys from both sides of the battle and local legal experts. All I got from the plaintiffs and defendants were a string of “No comments.” The experts I called said this means a settlement is either done or close to the finish line.
2. Broncos fans deserved more detail from each side. Fans help pay the salaries of the trustees, particularly Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis and team counsel Rich Slivka, and continue to aid in raising the value of the club, which will ultimately benefit Klemmer and Wallace. Instead, the sides hid behind a likely confidentiality agreement. All they needed to say is, “Yes, we have reached a settlement. There will be no trial,” in a joint statement.
3. The lack of insight meant hedging the analysis. Does this mean the Broncos will be put up for sale soon? Does this mean the trustees will run the sale process? What does this mean for Brittany Bowlen’s future with the team? Was the NFL office involved in getting the sides to the bargaining table?
4. The sisters’ claim that Pat Bowlen didn’t have the proper capacity was a long-shot to win because of the Cunningham test that was established in a 1953 case in Colorado. According to Nicole Schneider, a board-certified forensic psychologist, the case established five factors to determine capacity.
5. The five check-marks: Bowlen understood he was making a will. He knew what he owned. He understood how the assets would be distributed. He knew who would receive his assets. And the will represented his wishes. As it pertains to Bowlen, this is where the defense would have presented Richard Robinson’s affidavit from November 2018. Robinson was hired by Bowlen in March 2007 to review his estate plan and provide recommendations. In the affidavit, Robinson said Bowlen was “fully engaged in the process and understood the provisions.”
6. One potential example of undue influence? “That a trustee was involved in the drafting of the trust document and not only its execution,” said Nick Kliman, an estate attorney at Gendleman-Kliman in Denver.
7. The other area for undue influence is from Colorado Jury Instruction Chapter 34. According to Schneider, it relates to the sisters’ case: “The sister (would) have (had) to show that the defendants changed Pat’s plan from what he otherwise wanted.”
8. When told the trial could last a month, the experts estimated each side would bring at least 20 witnesses to the stand. “A normal trial for these kinds of cases would be two days,” Kliman said. “But the higher value of the case and more that’s at-stake, the more evidence you want to get admitted and the more testimony you want admitted.”
9. One question I asked all of the experts over the past year: Did Pat screw up? Should have he paid better attention to his estate-planning documents post-Alzheimer’s diagnosis and pre-cognitive decline?
10. “The short is, ‘Yes,’” said Blake Harris, managing attorney at Mile High Estate Planning. “He should have buttoned this up better when he had capacity. The most common mistake made in estate planning is waiting too long. It’s not a good time to start making changes once a person is diagnosed. … I’ve reviewed estate plans from every other law firm in town and some of the wealthiest individuals have poorly-drafted estate plans and apparently, Pat was one of those people. Had he planned sooner and the plan was clearer, it would have saved his family millions of dollars.”
11. On the same topic, Kliman said: “It is possible Pat was receiving bad advice and based on the timeline, it looks there are some indications that he had early on-set Alzheimer’s before the estate plan was changed. Maybe he wasn’t as prudent as he should have been.”
12. Now about the future of the Broncos in general and their future owner in particular. If the team was put on the block this summer, one league insider said the earliest a new owner would be approved is the March 2022 league meeting. That’s a lightning-fast process so my guess is the league has been vetting potential owners for years.
13. A Broncos sale price will shatter the NFL record of $2.275 billion paid by David Tepper for the Carolina Panthers in 2018. Factoring in the new television deal that starts in 2023 — a reported $110 billion over 11 years means a team take-home of $321 million per year! — will help the Broncos set a U.S. sports sale record.
14. Last month, Forbes valued the Broncos at $3.2 billion, 25th-richest in the world. Could the team fetch $3.5 billion if a bidding war took place? Absolutely.