Donald Trump thought the Patriots were a bad investment in 1988?
Donald Trump – who has been in the news lately, in case you haven’t noticed – was in talks to buy the New England Patriots back in 1988, but he decided to pass. Why?
According to the Boston Globe, it was because he (or more accurately, his financial advisers) thought buying the team would be a bad investment. “Donald had a real interest and he felt the Sullivan family was honorable in their dealings with him,” a Trump source told the Globe (via Boston.com). “But his people told him between the team and the stadium there was $104 million in debt, and that was too much for him to handle.”
Combing through the Globe’s archives, there are a few articles from the time about Trump’s potential purchase of the team at that time, but this seems to be the relevant one.
[Joel Kozol] maintained the reason for Trump’s withdrawal was a dim prospect for NFL approval. “Trump approved the agreement we submitted to him this weekend,” said Kozol late last night. “He was satisfied with the numbers and the deal. But the word was circulating that he could not get NFL approval. And without assurances, informal or formal, of NFL approval, he told me tonight that he could not proceed further with the deal at this time.”
In the end, those close to the deal say Trump didn’t have to worry about facing such a vote, because once his accountants and financial advisers got a look at the Patriots’ numbers, they branded the deal a loser, and Donald Trump does not like to lose.
The team was instead sold to Victor Kiam for $85 million. Kiam then sold the team to James Orthwein of the Busch family in 1992. Orthwein wanted to move the team to St. Louis, but that didn’t work out, so he sold to Robert Kraft for a then-record $175 million in 1994. And now the franchise is worth $2.6 billion, according to Forbes. I’d say Kraft’s investment worked out just fine.