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This DAO wants to buy the Broncos, here's what you need to know about their planned crypto financing.

This DAO wants to buy the Broncos

After an effort to purchase Real Salt Lake and put it under fan ownership didn’t work out, the same group is leading the charge toward fan ownership of an even bigger team: the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos officially went up for sale on February 1st, with ESPN reporting that the sale would likely be the biggest price tag for an American sports team in history. In 2020, the New York Mets were sold for $2.4 billion, setting a record for an American sports team, but the Broncos could sell for $4 billion.

Those rumored to be interested in the team include Broncos Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning, Denver billionaire investor Robert Smith, and media mogul Byron Allen, among others. Sean O’Brien, however, wants fans to own the team.

Like his previous effort that came just a month before Real Salt Lake’s sale to a billionaire ownership group, fans are attempting to raise money and awareness around buying the Broncos before someone can complete a deal. If it happens, the Broncos would first of its kind in the NFL.

There is some precedent for fan-owned teams—the Green Bay Packers are technically community-owned, and the team sells stock to raise funds for things like projects at historic Lambeau Field, but that stock really isn’t worth anything besides local bragging rights and a ticket to the annual ownership meeting, held at the team’s stadium.

But if the concept is half-baked, the Packers at least prove that raising millions of dollars for an NFL team is somewhat realistic. The Packers announced on February 25th that they sold more than 197,200 shares of $300 Packers stock in a recent round of stock sale, totaling more than $65 million. 

League rules state that a majority owner must own at least 30 percent of a team, according to ESPN. That means one owner would need to put up $1.2 billion on a $4 billion sale. Even someone like Manning, who made more than $400 million in his NFL career, according to Forbes, likely doesn’t have the funding to become a majority owner. For comparison, the most recent sale of an NFL team was to David Tepper, who has a net worth of $14.5 billion, via Forbes. It’s a high bar to reach.

With that in mind, O’Brien says his group would be willing to connect with a billionaire owner or ownership group about allowing for a smaller percentage of the Broncos to be owned by fans.

Though the primary goal is full fan ownership of the team, joining a consortium might be the most likely route. 

“This is an absolutely massive amount of money. The Broncos are worth that because they’re the Broncos—they’re amazing, right? They’re one of the best brands from a professional sports team in the country, so it makes sense that they’re at that high price tag. But they have a huge following, and an extremely loyal fan base here in the Mountain West,” O’Brien says. “Our thought process is that, whatever percentage it may be, [having fans own the team] would make the Denver Broncos the worldwide most popular NFL team, because people from all walks of life would… be able to be owners and participants in the NFL, and specifically the Denver Broncos.”

This is O’Brien and his group’s third effort at sports ownership, all of them daunting tasks. In addition to trying to purchase Utah’s soccer team, the group announced plans to fund Derby County, an English football (soccer) club that has twice won the top flight of the English football league system but now faces severe financial problems and faces potential liquidation, with £5 million needed just to finish out the rest of this season before a potential sale.

Those plans didn’t work out either. They posted 40,000 NFTs for sale on OpenSea with the hope of saving Derby County for the rest of the season, while looking ahead to ownership—but they didn’t sell at the price of 0.12 ETH. Still, Obrien is optimistic. Even though Real Salt Lake didn’t work out, and American excitement couldn’t be raised for Derby County—and even if the Broncos eventually sell to someone else—O’Brien believes in his idea, and sees a bright future for both blockchain technology and team ownership by fans.

“Now that we have the capabilities to really expand the cooperative business model in the form of a DAO, our view is that this is just the beginning,” he says. “People understand sports and fan ownership because people love their team, and that’s no secret, but whether we are 100 percent successful, or 50 percent successful, there are people who are far smarter than me, far more intelligent than me, and far more creative than me, who are going to see this DAO model and say, ‘hey, you know what, this can be applied in XYZ way.’”

It’s still a long shot, but there are some signs of momentum. The team’s Twitter account, @BuytheBroncos has over 1,400 followers, and they’ve received some press from a number of nationwide news outlets—Jimmy Kimmel even mentioned the effort on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday night.

“See all those crypto ads during the Super Bowl? There could soon be a crypto-owned NFL team. A group of what they call ‘crypto enthusiasts’ is teaming up to buy the Denver Broncos, which would be changed to the Denver Bored Apes,” Kimmel joked during his opening monologue.

The effort also has a powerful supporter in Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “The challenge will take a lot of money… but you know what, if your imagination is big enough, then it can happen. And anything I can do to make it happen, I’d be happy to,” the governor told CNBC. “I can’t play favorites… we want to have a good owner, but this would be really noteworthy for Colorado if they could pull this off.”