A local ownership group plans to submit a bid for the Carolina Panthers by April 1, but the offer will have to “make business sense,” Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, who is part of the group, told the Observer this week.
“It can’t just be an ego purchase,” said Sabates, who has said his group includes current minority owners of the team and NASCAR drivers.
Panthers majority owner Jerry Richardson announced plans to put the team up for sale at the end of last year, shortly after a Sports Illustrated report detailed allegations of workplace misconduct by Richardson.
Sabates has previously said that his group had hired consultants to analyze a possible bid and that a new domed stadium for the team is needed to make an offer financially viable. His latest comments add a potential timetable to when bids could be submitted.
NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday that he has been told the Panthers sale is tentatively slated to to be discussed and voted on at the spring owners meeting in Atlanta May 21-23. A deal won’t be ready by the annual owners meeting in Orlando March 25-28, he added.
Sabates declined to provide any new information about his group or to discuss any deadlines set by the bankers handling the sale of the Panthers. He has previously said he has had discussions with the Smith motorsports family about joining the group, but it’s not clear if they are on board.
A longtime fixture on the Charlotte sports scene, Sabates has said he would not be the majority owner in the group by a “long shot.” It’s not clear if the group has lined up someone who can put down at least 30 percent of the purchase price, an NFL requirement.
The Observer reported last month that multiple deep-pocketed individuals are being mentioned as potential bidders for the Carolina Panthers, which could help drive up the price. The team is currently valued by Forbes at $2.3 billion, but could potentially go for more.
In addition to Sabates’ group, viable names reported so far include billionaires David Tepper (by NFL Network) and Ben Navarro, a low-profile South Carolinian and financial services CEO whose interest has been confirmed by the Observer.