At a high level, you need three things: an owner that is willing to
sell, a lot of money, and a sufficient reputation to convince at least
24 of the existing owners that you should own the franchise. In the
case of the Saints in particular, you also need a place for them to
play if your goal is to keep them in New Orleans.
Tom Benson, the current owner of the Saints, purchased the team in
1985. Although he is a native of New Orleans, he currently resides in
San Antonio, and seems to be interested in moving the team there or to
Los Angeles. He has threatened to move the team before, most notably
in 2001. Either of those markets might increase the value of his
franchise, but he will need the permission of the NFL to do so. The
question of sympathy for New Orleans and how the public would view a
move will likely play an important role in whether or not the NFL
would approve this. The commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, has stated his
intention to put a team in Los Angeles in the near future, though.
Mr. Benson may find that opportunity attractive. If he is forced to
stay in New Orleans against his wishes, he may want to sell. He might
also want to sell if public opinion strengthens against him as owner.
The amount of money required is staggering. Forbes maintains an
estimate of teams' values. Even the Saints, one of the less valuable
teams, is worth approximately $718 million, although their present
situation may have decreased their value modestly.
The reputation issue is also important. The owners typically seek
accomplished people who are very wealthy, people like themselves. You
would be competing with the likes of Larry Ellison of Oracle and Terry
Bradshaw, the famous Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh
Steelers. Mr. Bradshaw has explicitly stated his interest in
acquiring the Saints. Note also that even a person of his stature
lacks sufficient wealth to buy the team without partners.
Assuming you are not a famous, wealthy person, you will most likely
need to attract people like that to your cause. Plans for developing
a stadium would also be beneficial in case the repairs to the
Superdome take longer than planned. You would then present your case
for owning the team to Mr. Benson, most likely through the NFL itself,
or by approaching him directly. If you plan to keep the team in New
Orleans, you would also need an economic study to demonstrate that the
city will be able to support the team financially despite its recent
An unorthodox approach to raising the money to buy an NFL franchise by
selling shares to the public is being conducted by Aaron Bradley,
although the site does not appear to have been updated recently and
may or may not be succeeding. He does provide some interesting
insights into acquiring an NFL team.
I suggest you review the source materials to gain further insight into
how to approach buying the Saints.
"NFLOwner.com" by Aaron Bradley http://auctionfire.com/nfl_ownership.html
"Tom Benson" Wikipedia (November 10, 2005) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Benson
"Terry Bradshaw interested in buying Saints" Associated Press,
ESPN.com (November 9, 2005)
"Benson should say good-bye" By Skip Bayless, ESPN.com
"San Antonio is team's likely home next season" ESPN.com (October 23,
"Magic, NASCAR chief discuss putting NFL franchise in L.A." By Rudy
Martzke, USA TODAY (March 24, 2005)
"49ers greats want to connect as NFL team owners" by Ron Leuty, San
Francisco Business Times (August 6, 2001)
"No Paper Lion: Ellison Eyes NFL Franchise For L.A., Report Says" by
Tony Kontzer, InformationWeek (Oct. 15, 2004)
"Co-founder of Home Depot to buy team" AP News (December 7, 2001)
"NFL Team Valuations" Forbes (2005) http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/30/Rank_2.html
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