MINNEAPOLIS — The next era of Broncos football has officially begun.
The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group was officially approved by a unanimous vote of NFL owners at a special league meeting in Minnesota on Tuesday.
"This is a group that is going to be great for the Denver community," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Their commitment to winning, but more importantly their commitment to making sure the Broncos franchise is an important part of the Denver community. We're thrilled about that."
Officially the new leaders of the Broncos, the members Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group emphasized Tuesday that they will look to continue the Broncos' rich history of championship standards.
"We are just so excited to become officially a part of the Broncos," Owner Rob Walton said. "It's a big, big day for us. Really, really exciting. It's been a great process and I want to extend a thanks with all the owners we've been involved with. Their warm greeting and support as we've met them along the way — haven't met all of them yet, but we're getting close — has just been good. It's a very wonderful group to become associated with. We want to acknowledge [former owner] Pat Bowlen's outstanding legacy, also, as well as the family. Pat's leadership and commitment to build a successful team and business and we'll continue to build on that.
"Putting a winning team on the field is our No. 1 priority. We can't wait to get to Denver, join our new colleagues and get to work."
Owner Carrie Walton Penner echoed those sentiments, as she noted it's imperative for the Broncos to excel both on and off the field.
"Every step of this process has been fantastic," Walton Penner said. "It's made us more excited each step of the way to become part of the NFL, but also especially part of the Denver Broncos and the Denver community. Like my dad said, we're excited to put a winning team on the field. We also know it's important to excel off the field, as well, both in our community and across the league. That's true for the incredible group of leaders that we're fortunate to count as members of the ownership group: Mellody Hobson, Condoleezza Rice, as well as Lewis Hamilton."
Hobson, Rice and Hamilton have all been announced as members of the Walton-Penner Family Ownership group, and Walton said Tuesday that he's excited about the partnership.
"As we started thinking about partners, we wanted to get people with tremendous capacity," Walton said. "We think the diversity is important. We think diverse organizations are more successful organizations, and we're looking forward to working with them."
The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group will also be assisted by outgoing President/CEO Joe Ellis, who has agreed to serve as an adviser for the 2022 season. Owner Greg Penner said it was both "a responsibility and a privilege" to lead the Broncos, and he noted the respect the ownership group has for the franchise's storied past.
"The Broncos are an iconic franchise that means a lot to Colorado and the whole Rocky Mountain region," Penner said. "We have enormous respect for Pat Bowlen and for what he meant both to the Broncos and the NFL."
The Broncos stood out to Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner, who said they never considered purchasing another sports team.
"The Broncos are the one sports franchise that we would have considered buying," Walton said. "Greg actually … started conversations some 10 years ago about it. Then the team actually announced it was for sale early this year, and we got in the middle of it first thing. We'd been talking about it, and we have connections. Greg and Carrie live in Colorado. I've been going to Colorado — I've had a home there for a long, long time. Other families there. Great connection for us. We're really excited about it, and it's just a terrific team [and] terrific fan base."
The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group will soon attack the opportunities and challenges that await the organization, but Penner said it was premature on Tuesday to talk about a new stadium for the organization.
"I'll say that Empower Field at Mile High is a world-class facility," Penner said. "It's hosted obviously football games, terrific other sporting events and entertainment events. We've got a good partnership with the Metropolitan Football Stadium District and fortunately have almost 10 years left on our lease, so we'll evaluate all of our options and really dig in and understand the situation before making any decisions."
But on Tuesday, as the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group was introduced as the next owners of the Denver Broncos, it was clear that Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner were thrilled to begin working in their new roles.
"We're really anxious to get started," Penner said, "and we want to compete and we want to win."