Judge's ruling that ex-owner Edgar Kaiser Jr.'s heirs can't buy back portion of Denver Broncos clears way for sale of franchise

The heirs of the former Broncos owner can't buy back the entire team as part of a right of first refusal agreement, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Kaiser sold the team to Pat Bowlen in 1984 and a group representing his estate petitioned the court to prevent the sale. Kaiser and Bowlen died in the same year.

Kaiser's heirs had no claim to the 1984 sales agreement between Kaiser and Bowlen and the right of first refusal was no longer valid, according to the Denver District judge.

The Broncos are owned by the Pat Bowlen Trust, which was put in place before Bowlen stepped away from the team's day-to-day operations. Bowlen died of Alzheimer's Disease in 2019.

Broncos CEO Joe Ellis has said that if Bowlen's children can't agree on a majority owner, the team will likely be sold. The team is expected to go up for sale in the coming months, as the siblings' lawsuit was set to go to trial before it was dismissed.

Ellis said that they were glad to put the issue behind them and move closer to owning the Broncos. We will make an announcement regarding ownership after the hire of our head coach is complete.

The Broncos fired head coach Vic Fangio on Sunday after he posted a 19-30 record in three seasons. The Broncos have missed the playoffs six years in a row.

The Broncos are worth just under $4 billion and both John Elway and Peyton Manning have expressed interest in being part of a group that would bid on the team. Manning said when he was in the Ring of Fame that he would listen to any proposals about joining an ownership group, but that it would have to be the right fit.

The majority investor in a $4 billion sale of the franchise would need to own at least 30% of the team.

Ellis said when the Broncos opened training camp this summer he expected the ownership transition to take place before the season starts. He talked about the ownership situation again Sunday as he took questions about the team's head coaching search, but he wouldn't give a timetable until Tuesday's ruling.

Ellis said that he would speak to him as soon as the season ended about a transition in ownership. I'm going to wait and get back to you at a later date, out of respect for the court. The court should be able to see through to the end. I'll be able to let you know where things stand after that.