Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced last week that he is putting the team up for sale, which means the franchise will soon be under new ownership for the first time in its 24-year history.
While there will likely be several people and groups interested in purchasing the team, one group close to home is considering making a bid.
According to Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, the Smith family -- which owns Speedway Motorsports, Inc. -- is considering a bid on the franchise. However, CEO Marcus Smith is more concerned with bringing an MLS team to Charlotte.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns several racetracks, including Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Their tracks host NASCAR, NHRA and IndyCar Series races.
The headquarters are in Charlotte, and the Smiths have said in the past that they would be interested in purchasing the Panthers if they were up for sale.
"Smith and his father, SMI Exec Chair Bruton Smith, have publicly stated before that they could be interested in the Panthers were they ever to come up for sale, but the family has yet to speak since news broke Sunday that Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson would sell his 48% stake in the team amid the workplace misconduct allegations," Stern said. "Sources confirmed this week that the Smiths are indeed likely to consider getting involved in the bidding when that process begins after the NFL season."
Marcus Smith is more interested in bringing an MLS team to Charlotte, but they missed out on the last round of expansion efforts. Missing out on the MLS franchise could lead the Smiths to putting together a bid for the Panthers since it's very rare that an NFL franchise is put up for sale.
There will likely be several groups trying to buy the Panthers, but the Smiths would have a chance given their proximity and interest in the city.