Three things you need to know from the first Walton-Penner presser
The Denver Broncos transitioned ownership from the Bowlen family to the Walton-Penner group on Tuesday in Minnesota.
NFL owners approved the $4.65 Billion sale to the Walmart-made family. Afterward, the trio of Robson Walton, Greg Penner and Carrie Walton-Penner met with the media for a short press conference.
The biggest long-term issue with the Broncos is what the club will do with their 21-year-old stadium. While not an ancient facility it is outdated compared to the cathedrals being built by other teams. Denver will either need a refurbished stadium, a new stadium, or perhaps even moving the team outside of downtown.
“Today is really about the first step in ownership and premature to start talking about a new stadium,” Greg Penner said Tuesday. “I’ll say that Empower Field at Mile High is a world-class facility. It’s hosted football games, terrific other sporting events, and entertainment events. We’ve got a good partnership with a metropolitan football stadium district and fortunately have almost 10 years left on our lease. So we’ll evaluate our options and dig in and understand the situation before making any decision.”
The Broncos have not hosted a Super Bowl, NFL Draft, or big events like the Final Four. This is going to be something the group chases. How it gets done is not yet known. But the hint of a 10-year lease and calling the decent stadium “world-class” does mean it may not be an imminent decision.
Walton said that the family had been eyeing buying the Broncos for a decade. They seem to know the history of the team, and its winning pretty well. It’s obvious Pat Bowlen’s time, and the team’s performance under his leadership made the team valuable to the group.
Walton said winning is the No. 1 priority for the team and that the group is honored to carry on Bowlen’s legacy.
“We’re excited to put a winning team on the field,” Carrie Walton-Penner said. “We know it’s important to excel off the field too.”
“We are committed to building a winning team,” Walton said.
3: Joe Ellis
Greg Penner said longtime Broncos boss Joe Ellis will be staying but stepping down. The group also complimented Ellis.
“We couldn’t be happier with the coach and GM,” Walton said. “We thought we might get here without a coach and QB. But Joe Ellis came up with an outstanding coach, they’ll have to perform, and we think we have the pieces for a great season.”
Here’s the full statement the group released shortly after meeting with the media:
“We are grateful for the support and trust of the National Football League and the 31 other teams with today’s vote. We couldn’t be more excited to join the Denver Broncos.
“It’s a responsibility and privilege to serve as stewards of such an iconic franchise. We have tremendous respect for what Pat Bowlen has meant to the Broncos and look forward to building on this organization’s championship legacy.
“While we’re deeply committed to fielding a great team to win Super Bowls, our family and extraordinary partners are also dedicated to our off-the-field responsibilities to Broncos Country and the Rocky Mountain region.
“Operating with integrity and accountability, we aim to draw on our individual strengths and those of the players, coaches and staff who have shaped the Broncos’ storied history. And to that end, we want to thank Joe Ellis for his guidance throughout this process and his willingness to serve as an advisor to ownership for this season.
“Across the entire organization, we will all continue to listen and learn.
“Most importantly, we will strive to make the Denver Broncos the best team to cheer for, play for, and work for in all of sports. Go Broncos!”
And here’s the full statement from Ellis
“Congratulations to the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group on today’s unanimous league approval for their purchase of the Denver Broncos!
“As I step down as President & CEO, it has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to be part of the Denver Broncos for 27 seasons. I am forever thankful to our dedicated staff, the players and coaches for making this franchise what it has become today—one of the best organizations in all of sports.
“There are no words to express the gratitude I have toward Pat Bowlen for his trust, friendship and the responsibility to serve the Broncos and this community for nearly three decades. Pat’s legacy of winning, doing things the right way and giving back is unmatched. He is a Pro Football Hall of Famer in every sense for what he has meant to this organization and the National Football League.
“To Broncos Country: From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your passion and loyalty, especially through the challenges we’ve faced over the last few years, are what make the Broncos so special. You are truly the best fans in the NFL and deserve many, many more Super Bowls.
“Most of all, I want to thank my wife Ann, daughter Catherine, and sons Si and Zander for their unwavering (mostly!) support through the ups and downs, wins and losses, and unforgettable moments during this incredible ride.
“Looking ahead, I am confident the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group will add to the Broncos’ championship tradition on and off the field while putting their own stamp on this great organization. I was asked by them to serve as an advisor to ownership for this season, and I’ve accepted their request to help in the transition however possible.
“The Broncos are in great hands with Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner, Greg Penner, Mellody Hobson, Condoleezza Rice and Sir Lewis Hamilton along with the many outstanding people in our organization. I wish them much success, happiness and fun as they begin this journey.