This is how you can buy an NFL team. But you probably can't afford it
Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, who has been working for months to pull together a local group to potentially buy the Carolina Panthers, says he now won't be involved with any bids.
The Observer reported last month that Sabates, a long-time fixture on the Charlotte sports scene, was looking to partner with another bidder, rather than assemble his own group. Now he is dropping plans to invest in the NFL team at all.
"I have decided to withdraw from any potential investment," Sabates, 72, told the Observer. "The price has become higher than I consider to be prudent. If any owner wants help, I will help them."
Sabates first signaled interest in pursuing a bid in December, shortly after owner Jerry Richardson said he planned to sell the team he founded. Richardson announced his decision on the same day Sports Illustrated published a story outlining allegations of workplace misconduct against Richardson.
Sabates, who has long been involved in auto racing and is part of the Charlotte Hornets ownership group, has repeatedly said that he would only pursue a bid if it made business sense. He has also been vocal in saying that the team need's a new domed stadium to become financially viable.
In recent weeks, the Observer has identified four potential bidders: steel company CEO Alan Kestenbaum, Charleston financier Ben Navarro, e-commerce entrepreneur Michael Rubin and hedge fund manager David Tepper.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that Rubin had dropped out after bids had reached $2.5 billion, but a source told the Observer at the time that he remained interested at the right price. Bloomberg has also reported that Cary billionaire Jim Goodnight has expressed interest.
Kestenbaum, Navarro and Tepper have made visits to Charlotte in recent weeks, but it's not clear where the bidding process stands. The Panthers have hired New York investment bank Allen & Co. to handle the sale.
Last month, NFL owners gathered at meetings in Orlando said they expected a bidder to be presented for approval by the league's next round of meetings May 21-23 in Atlanta.