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Paul Allen
Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen is honored by the team at CenturyLink Field 20 years after he kept the NFL franchise from leaving. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Paul Allen saved the Seattle Seahawks when he acquired the team in 1996 and kept the NFL franchise from relocating to Southern California. With the passing of the Microsoft co-founder, a new report from NFL.com speculates on what might happen if the team is sold.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that sources inside the league said that Allen planned to have the proceeds of the eventual sale of the team go to charity via the Paul G. Allen Foundation.

While no sale of the team is imminent, the expectation, according to Rapoport, is that Allen’s sister Jody Allen would eventually divest the Seahawks. She has been named executor of her brother’s estate.

Could Russell Wilson guide the Seattle Seahawks to another Super Bowl championship for a new team owner? (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The price tag would be a big one, with the team “likely to set a record for most expensive North American sports franchise ever purchased,” Rapoport said. Allen paid $194 million in 1996. The Seahawks would likely fetch closer to $3 billion these days.

Who could afford to play at that level? A few other billionaires with Seattle ties come to mind:

  • Bill Gates: Would Allen’s old pal step in to acquire the Hawks as a tribute to his Microsoft co-founder? Gates certainly has the resources to purchase the team and keep it running as one of the premiere franchises in all of sports. But it’s hard to picture Gates having any interest in professional sports outside of tennis. And he’s got his hands full trying to save the world from a myriad of other problems that have nothing to do with an offensive line.
Would Jeff Bezos, left, take his eye off his space obsession for a shot at the gridiron glory Paul Allen enjoyed? (GeekWire Photos)
  • Jeff Bezos: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said during NFL meetings this fall that he would carry the Amazon founder “piggyback” to get him to buy an NFL franchise. As the richest man on the planet, it’s just a matter of whether Bezos wants to spend more money on Earth when so much of his focus is dedicated to getting off of it. Blue Origin, rockets, space travel and Mars exploration are bigger bets for Bezos. But with Amazon being floated as a possible name that could be attached to the former Safeco Field baseball stadium (Prime Park?), don’t be surprised if the company and its CEO would go big in Seattle in another attempt to win hearts in the city it has impacted so greatly.
  • Steve Ballmer: Another Microsoft billionaire who actually has a love for pro sports, Ballmer seems like a natural fit to own both an NBA team (the Los Angeles Clippers) and an NFL team. Allen certainly pulled that off as the longtime owner of the Portland Trail Blazers in addition to his Seahawks love. And Ballmer is doing interesting things with technology to heighten the fan experience with the Clippers that could be fun to see implemented in the tech-loving city that the Seahawks call home.
  • Howard Schultz: The former Starbucks CEO … nevermind. Nope.
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