The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the NFL franchises still ran by the club’s founding family. President Mike Brown has been with the team ever since his father Paul created it over 50 years ago, and there’s zero signs of ownership ever leaving his family.
Keeping the Browns in-charge of the Bengals should get easier from now on. During last week’s league meetings, owners voted to pass a bylaw that would reduce the required minimum control for a longstanding owner from 5% to 1%. Longstanding in this case means at least 10 years of ownership, and those families must control at least 30% of the franchise.
You don’t have to do the math here because Brown has been the owner for over 30 years and 100% of the franchise is controlled by his kin.
The reasoning for the change has to do with the rise in value of NFL clubs and a difference between 5% equity and 1% is significant due to that rise in average value. It’s also a nod to ensure that if ownership were to be passed down in the family, inheriting owners wouldn’t be hit with an estate tax too steep.
For the Bengals’ sake, they were valued last year at $2.275 billion, and each member of the Brown family inheriting ownership previously would have to hold a minimum of $113,750,000. This change reduces that value to just $22,750,000, which decreases the estate tax attached to it.
It’s not as if the Bengals were going to be sold to another buyer if this didn’t happen, but it does make things financially easier for a family whose entire revenue comes from ownership of the franchise. The league wants to keep legacy families in the business, and this will help.