Jim Irsay has been the owner of the Indianapolis Colts since the 1997 season and during his time running the team they have experienced one of the most successful runs in NFL history. And while there's currently not a timetable for when Irsay will step down from his ownership position, we know that, at some point in the future, the ownership of the franchise will be passed down to his daughters, Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Casey Foyt, and Kalen Irsay.
The three have continued to become more involved in running the team, occupying the title of vice-chair/owner of the franchise. When Jim Irsay was suspended last year, we saw a taste of the future, as Carlie stepped in and ran the team, hardly missing a beat. And we know that at some point, they will take over the franchise.
At last week's NFL owners meetings, the vote was passed to make it easier for teams to transition ownership to family members by allowing trust ownership of teams. As the Sports Business Journal's Daniel Kaplan reported, it was incredibly difficult to pass ownership of teams to sons or daughters before because of the estate tax that would have to be paid, and considering the enormous, rising price of franchises, that tax would likely be massive - "commonly 40 percent of appreciation," Kaplan noted.
Now, teams could operate with an irrevocable family trust, massively cutting down the taxes in a similar fashion as business use when passing the company down to a son or daughter. Kaplan writes:
The move carries great benefits for team owners and their families because these types of trusts significantly reduce, and can eliminate, estate and gift taxes when assets are passed between generations.
So how does this impact the Colts? It should be pretty clear to see, as at some point the franchise will be passed on to Jim Irsay's daughters. What this new vote does is make that easier for his daughters to take control of the team, as now the Colts could opt to utilize an irrevocable family trust to get around many of the taxes that would have previously accompanied a transition in ownership. It remains unclear how the Irsays will take advantage of this change, but the Colts did vote in favor of it (as Kaplan reports, 31 of 32 teams voted in favor of it - all voting yes except for the Titans) and it would make a lot of sense for this to be an avenue through which they explore the transition of ownership when the time comes.