ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined the Denver Broncos’ new ownership group.
Rice, who also served as a national security adviser as well as provost of Stanford University, lived in Denver as a child and earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of Denver.
In June, a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton that includes Walton’s daughter. Carrie Walton Penner; her husband, Greg Penner; and Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chair of the board of Starbucks Corp., agreed to buy the Broncos for $4.65 billion.
In a statement Monday, Walton said, “We are delighted to welcome former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to our ownership group. A highly respected public servant, accomplished scholar and business leader, Secretary Rice is well known as a passionate and knowledgeable football fan. who has worked to make the sport stronger and better. She is the daughter of a football coach and served on the first college football playoff committee. … Her unique experience and her Extraordinary judgment will be a great benefit to our group and the Broncos organization.”
The sale of the team, which was for a record price paid for a North American sports franchise, is being reviewed by the NFL and must be approved by a full vote of NFL owners in the coming weeks. Twenty-four votes in favor are required for the sale to be formally approved.
It took 60 to 90 days for the sale to be approved and the transaction to close.
The Walton-Penner Group was, according to multiple sources, one of four groups that qualified for the second round of bidding for the team in early June. The Broncos were one of the NFL’s most successful franchises in the Super Bowl era, with three Super Bowl wins under Pat Bowlen’s ownership tenure, and they now have an ownership group with some of the pockets the deepest.
Greg Penner and Carrie Walton Penner are expected to play prominent roles in the day-to-day operations of the team, and current Broncos CEO Joe Ellis had expressed, since the team was officially goes on sale Feb. 1, how important it is for the new owner to be “visible” in the community and understand the Broncos’ place in Denver, Colorado and the region.
The sale of the team ended an eight-year odyssey since Bowlen pulled out of the day-to-day operations of the team he had owned for 30 years in July 2014 due to an onset of illness. Alzheimers. Bowlen died in 2019.
Bowlen never officially declared a successor among his children, and when he retired, his interest in the team (estimated at around 78% at the time) was placed in a trust overseen by Ellis, l Broncos attorney Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary. Kelly.
What followed included a lawsuit between family members, harsh words and court dates that coincided with a current six-year streak of playoff misses on the court. The team’s Super Bowl 50 win to close out the 2015 season was the last postseason game the Broncos played.
The sale agreement with the Walton-Penner Group also means that Walton and Stan Kroenke, Walton’s cousin by marriage, will own five of Colorado’s six major professional sports franchises. Kroenke owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and Colorado Mammoth lacrosse teams, in addition to a regional media company in the state.