Wednesday December 6, 2023

NFL Owners’ Debt Limit Could Increase To $1.6B

  • Currently, incoming NFL owners can use $1.1 billion of debt to facilitate a franchise purchase.
  • That number could go up to $1.6 billion as owners make concessions around escalating team values.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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More concessions to the NFL’s long-standing policies on team ownership structures appear to be on the way as rising franchise values make it increasingly difficult to acquire clubs and fund operations.

The NFL owners’ finance committee may soon suggest upping the allowed debt for an incoming owner from $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. Josh Harris’ group used $1 billion in debt to facilitate the $6.05 billion purchase of the Washington Commanders.

Additionally, the amount of debt existing owners could have against their team may increase from $600 million to $1 billion. 

The new rules, which would require approval from 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners, would be the latest in the league’s evolving approach to ownership framework. 

Earlier this month, a new NFL finance committee was created to explore the possibility of letting private equity firms and other investment funds take minority ownership stakes in franchises, as is allowed in other major U.S. sports.

Harris’ acquisition of the Commanders — a record price for an NFL franchise — and the $4.65 billion sale of the Denver Broncos to the Walton-Penner family group have shown just how expensive and difficult it will be for any future buyers interested in NFL teams.

All the recent moves appear to be part of team owners’ strategy to make sure the money can keep flowing into the league — and that interest in acquiring franchises remains at an all-time high.

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