Panthers could attract several buyers with deep pockets, experts say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some experts say that without a doubt, the sale of the Carolina Panthers will smash the previous record of $1.4 billion for the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

"This is going to be a very attractive team for a lot of buyers. It's a well-run team, in an excellent market. It's in a stable market with a growing economy," Michael McCann, a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, said.

[Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to sell team at end of season]

[Panthers owner Richardson stepping away from day-to-day operations]

The sale of an NFL team is extremely rare. Only four NFL teams have been sold in the last 10 years.

McCann explained that the NFL vets all potential buyers and will have a lot of leverage over the sale.

[Report: Claims of sexual harassment, racism against Panthers owner]

Eyewitness News anchor Liz Foster learned it's not just the league checking financial records and criminal backgrounds. The Panthers future owner has to have very deep pockets. The league requires any group wanting to buy the team to be led by one person who has at least 30-person equity in the team.

With the Panthers valued at $2.3 billion, that means a new owner would need at least $600 million, then recruit minority owners for the rest of the money.

"I don't know if any of the current minority owners are willing to take on that level of investment, which would be over $1 billion," said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor of Forbes.

Also, the majority of other NFL team owners will have to approve the Panthers' new owner.

"At the end of the day, it's a club and the club members decide who is in their club," Dan Kaplan, who is an NFL writer for SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, said.

It may be a while before we get the answer to one of the biggest questions: Will the team stay in the Carolinas?

“That will likely be part of the interview process with prospective buyers, that Richardson and NFL officials will want to know the intentions of those who would like to buy the team," McCann told Channel 9.

The team's several minority owners, who have a smaller stake in the Panthers, cannot be forced to sell. But because Richardson owns 48 percent of the equity and is selling the majority stake, the new owner will control the franchise.

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