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Dan Gilbert not interested in buying Lions, Tigers

A month back, rumors surfaced from Cleveland that Dan Gilbert could be looking to buy a sports team from Detroit, quite possibly the Detroit Lions or even baseball’s Detroit Tigers. Apparently, though, those rumblings were unfounded, and Gilbert is not currently looking for a way in the sports scene. Recently, the topic of the Lions rumor came up, and according to Gilbert, there’s nothing to see there at all.

In a Detroit Free Press piece by JC Reindl, some recent quotes from Gilbert are presented on the matter which all but clear up the fact that the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here’s a look at what was said:

“Billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert told a crowd of reporters Thursday that he has no interest in buying any additional sports teams, batting down speculation that he may be looking at the Detroit Tigers or even the Detroit Lions.

“No, we don’t even think about it,” Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team, said during a building groundbreaking ceremony in downtown Detroit. “The truth of the matter is is that the stuff that was out earlier — there was nothing there.”

Rumors from Cleveland held that Gilbert was getting out of the casino business with eyes on the Lions. In Detroit, folks have wondered if Gilbert might have eyes on another local franchise in the Tigers. Recently, owner Chris Ilitch has said that the team isn’t for sale, and some more hurdles would have to be cleared by Gilbert if he wanted to own either that team or the Lions. He’d also have to sell off Rock Gaming, also formally known as Jack Entertainment. That could be a move that is also being plotted, however, as reports have swirled in recent months that Gilbert wants out of the casino business altogether. This is merely the first step.

The bigger question to ponder is probably would the Fords ever sell the Lions. It’s been a family business since William Clay Ford purchased the team in 1963 with awful results after. Since the elder Ford’s death in 2014, his wife Martha Ford owns the team. Now, Ford is worth a reported $1.5 billion, and her franchise is worth $1.7 billion, which is on the lower end for NFL franchises as proven every year by Forbes, meaning someone like Gilbert could certainly make a play for one of the league’s most affordable teams.

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As for perhaps another interesting question, the succession plan is something fans have been thinking about, considering Ford is aging and is 93 years old. Many locally have assumed that Ford would keep the team in the family with her daughters or William Clay Ford Jr. Ford Jr. has had a complicated place within the Lions ownership hierarchy, choosing at times to stay hands off through the years with his father and now his mother. How much interest the younger Fords have in the Lions is certainly up for debate, as they are involved now, but currently overshadowed by their mother who has the long standing ties from her late husband.

When the time comes, it will be interesting to see what the Fords do with the Lions. Casual wisdom has long assumed the team will not sell, and will choose to keep things in the family, though they have not been publicly approached by someone like Gilbert before. For the time being, Mrs. Ford has been a breath of fresh air for the Lions and many of their fans given the intensive approach to change she has shown recently, even though results have remained mixed on the field.

Gilbert, right now, doesn’t have any interest in buying one of the Detroit teams even in spite of some of the moves he has made on his personal front. So it’s something to remember moving forward.

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