Jim Irsay has his faults, and rather than go into them, let’s just leave it at that. The Colts owner isn’t perfect. But as a businessman, he’s playing things about as perfect as he can.
According to Forbes, the Colts confirmed that Irsay recently turned down a $3.2 billion offer to buy the team. That’s $545 million more than what Forbes recently estimated their worth at ($2.65 billion) and almost $1 billion more than what the Panthers were sold for last year ($2.3 billion).
With Andrew Luck retiring and the massive gap in the numbers above, you may think this is the perfect time for Irsay to sell. Like Ezekiel Elliott, get the bag while you can and get the hell out. There’s only one issue with that thinking: the Colts are worth more than that offer. A lot more.
The NFL is about to embark on what is likely to be the most profitable ride any league has ever enjoyed. The rights for their TV deals are expiring in the coming year, meaning they’ll squeeze FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN and all the tech bidders (Amazong, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) for every penny they can. And really, they can ask for whatever they want and get it. After all, they’re by far the most-watched TV programming in town.
With gambling becoming legalized in more and more states, the NFL is also actively looking into how it can get its piece of the pie. And be assured, that’s the only way the NFL will recognize gambling and allow it widespread broadcasting across broadcasts. And they’ll get it because, again, they’re the biggest show in town.
Simultaneously, the NFL is also expanding its overseas operations, looking to other countries as new revenue streams. They’re probably doing a bunch of other things that aren’t as obvious, so yeah, a lot of positive cash-flow streams are on the horizon. And that is the reason why NFL franchise values are increasing so rapidly and the reason Irsay was smart for holding onto the Colts.
Outside of the sentimental value, which Irsay certainly seems to cherish, his franchise valuation went up 11 percent from last year to this year. Since 2014, when they were valued at $1.8 billion, they’ve increased in estimated value by 47.2 percent. If you include the offer of $3.2 billion, that’s 77.7 percent. In five years, anyone would take a 77 percent return on investment. Not Irsay.
Like a smart businessman reading the writing on the wall far ahead, Irsay is staying the course. He knows that $3 could turn into a $4 or even $5 billion in a couple of years and he knows the NFL is in position to make that happen. So he’s biding his time, watching his team play, enjoying the perks of being an NFL owner and all the comes with it. But also, he’s playing it smart and not letting one big offer get in the way of bigger ones to come.