Malcolm Glazer, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one of European soccer’s most storied franchises, Manchester United of the English Premier League, died Wednesday. He was 85.
The Bucs announced his death, but no other details were available. He had two serious strokes in 2006 and lived in Palm Beach, Fla.
When Glazer bought the Bucs in 1995 for a then-NFL record $192 million, it was one of the least successful franchises in professional sports. He transformed it into a moneymaker and a winning team on the field.
Under coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs won the 2003 Super Bowl, defeating the Oakland Raiders, 48-21. Last year, Forbes magazine estimated the team’s value at more than $1 billion, 17th among the NFL’s 32 teams.
While shoring up the Bucs’ financial side, Glazer and his sons, who helped run the team, adopted a hands-off policy toward the football operations.
“They are the perfect owners,” Rich McKay, the team’s general manager during its Super Bowl season, told USA Today in 2003. “They never dabble in personnel except when a budget decision of some kind is involved.”
Before becoming a sports owner, Glazer built a fortune in real estate and other businesses. He was the chief executive of First Allied Corp., a holding company that controls companies involved in everything from mobile-home parks to restaurants, food service equipment, television stations, real estate, shopping centers and petroleum.
Forbes estimates Glazer’s current net worth at $4 billion, making him the 121st richest person in the United States and No. 356 in the world.
In a complicated transaction heavily leveraged with loans, Glazer gained control of Manchester United for $1.4 billion in 2005. Forbes rates the British soccer club as the world’s most valuable sports franchise.
After the club’s fans learned of the takeover by an American, Glazer was hanged in effigy.
Malcolm Irving Glazer was born in Rochester, N.Y., in August 1928. (The date is variously listed as Aug. 15 and Aug. 25.) He worked in his father’s watch-repair shop as a boy before taking over the business when his father died in 1943.
Most of Glazer’s business interests, including the Bucs and Manchester United, are now managed by his children.
Survivors include his wife, Linda; six children; and 14 grandchildren.