Biggest Sporting Deals in U.S. History

Biggest Sporting Deals in U.S. History

The ongoing sale of the Buffalo Bills is potentially the largest sale of an NFL team in U.S. history.

The North American sports industry is a multi-million dollar business; not only do players get hefty paychecks, but teams are sometimes sold for astronomical figures. Here are some of the biggest sporting deals in U.S. history.

Baseball

The LA Dodgers made history in 1957 when its owners, the O’Malley family, moved the team across the country from Brooklyn. In 1998, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox Television, bought the Dodgers in an effort to defeat ESPN in sports coverage. However, the Dodgers lost popularity due to poor performance, and in 2004 Murdoch sold the team to Frank McCourt.

McCourt and his then wife, Jamie, soon came under fire for allegedly using their stake in the Dodgers as collateral against personal purchases. When they could not pay back their loans, the McCourts were forced to file for bankruptcy on behalf of the Dodgers.

In 2012, Frank McCourt sold the team for $2.15 billion. Interestingly, the Dodgers were bought by a group that included former Lakers star Magic Johnson and baseball executive Stan Kasten. The $2.15 billion sale ironically granted Fox TV exclusive rights to broadcast the Dodgers games, allowed McCourt to pay his ex-wife Jamie $130 million in their divorce settlement, and still left McCourt with around $800 million in profit.

Basketball

The NBA is one of the biggest sporting franchises in the world. It regularly spends billions of dollars on stadium upgrades and sells teams for large sums of money. This year, the NBA made history when the L.A. Clippers were sold for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, following the publication of racist remarks made by then-owner Donald Sterling. The sale was finalized this week, though litigation may continue well on into the future.

Football

The Buffalo Bills are currently up for sale, slated to be sold for at least $1 billion, though rumors suggest that all initial bids are “well below” that figure. Confirmed bidders include, Terence Pegula (who also owns the NHL Buffalo Sabres), Donald Trump, a Toronto group headed by Jon Bon Jovi, and former Sabres owner Tom Golisano.

According to sources familiar with the bids, Donald Trump has offered in the mid-$800 million territory, and Terry Pegula and Bon Jovi have both offered well under $1 billion. The Buffalo Bills’ sale comes after the death of founder and owner, Ralph Cookerly Wilson, in March 2014.

Hockey

In 2013, the NHL sold the Phoenix Coyotes to a Canadian investment group for $170 million dollars. This team has had a long, checkered financial history. In 2009, then-owner Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy on the team’s behalf and attempted to sell the team for $212 million to a Canadian investor who wanted to move it to Canada. However, the NHL purchased it for $140 million in the hopes of keeping it in Arizona. The NHL continually looked for a buyer without success until 2013.