The NFL has changed ownership rules that could make it easier for the Bears to remain in the control of the McCaskey family for decades to come.
The Sports Business Journal reported this morning that the league voted two weeks ago at meetings in Boston to ease ownership requirements for a controlling owner that make succession plans easier for family-owned organizations and probably could have made a recent transition by the Rooney family much easier with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Previously, a controlling owner had to own at least 20 percent of the club with family members owning at least another 10 percent. In the revised format, a single controlling owner now need own only 10 percent of the franchise with other family members owning at least 20 percent to get to the same number of 30 percent. Prior to 2004, according to the report, a controlling owner had to have at least 30 percent, a figure that is more challenging with the rising values of franchises.
Forbes estimated the value of the Bears at $1.082 billion in September. So, the difference in a 10 percent stake in the team is in the range of $100 million. This will greatly aid family-owned teams looking to keep the family business in tact. Dallas, New England and New Orleans were cited as other family-operated organizations.
The report states that the Bears have been pushing for eased restrictions for years: "Several years ago, Mike McCaskey, son of 86-year-old Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey approached the league about relaxing its ownership requirements. The league rebuffed him at the time, but at least on paper, a path to ownership now would be easier for him."
The new rule applies only to current owners and cannot be enacted unless a succession plan filed with the league is in place. New owners would be subject to the 20/10 rule for their first decade in the league, the report said.
The Bears have said that there is a succession plan in place for the organization. This will no doubt help the McCaskeys and set them up to maintain control of the cornerstone franchise in the NFL for years to come. The Steelers' future with the Rooneys was seriously threatened, and after watching that situation unfold the league moved to prevent that type of scenario from unfolding again.