Red McCombs, ex-owner of Spurs, Nuggets and Vikings, dies

Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, the Texas billionaire who was the onetime proprietor of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets in addition to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, died Sunday at his dwelling in San Antonio on the age of 95, his household introduced Monday in a press release.

“Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways,” the assertion learn. “But to us he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’ We mourn the loss of a Texas icon.”

He purchased the ABA’s Dallas Chaparrals and relocated the staff — henceforth generally known as the Spurs — to San Antonio for the 1973-74 season.

McCombs was instrumental in getting the Spurs into the NBA as a part of the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.

After the staff rose to prominence with celebrity George “The Iceman” Gervin, McCombs offered his share of the Spurs in 1982 to purchase the Nuggets, whom he then offered in 1985 to rebuy his share of the Spurs in 1986. He then purchased the staff outright from its different traders in 1988.

“I can say Red [was] a friend,” Hall of Famer Gervin advised the Houston Chronicle on Monday. “The impact he had on this city is unbelievable. We always say, ‘Everything Red touches turns to gold.’ It’s a reality. His vision for this city, his vision for the Spurs.

“We named them [the Spurs] after the town he grew up in [Spur, Texas]. So that tells you numerous about his affect on the Spurs.”

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McCombs again sold the Spurs in 1993.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver called McCombs “a driving drive in creating the fashionable NBA.”

“He was an innovator and savvy entrepreneur who by no means shied away from taking dangers,” Silver said in a statement.

In yet another move that furthered his record of purchasing sports franchises and holding them for a relatively short period, McCombs purchased the Vikings in 1998 for $246 million. He owned the NFL team until 2005, when he was frustrated by efforts to secure a new stadium and sold the team to the Wilf family for $600 million. During his tenure, the Vikings twice reached the NFC Championship Game.

“Red embodied his well-known ‘Purple Pride’ phrase and remained a staunch Vikings fan after passing the torch to the Wilf household in 2005,” the team said in a statement. “While Red had a transparent ardour for sports activities, it was evident what he liked probably the most had been his youngsters and grandchildren. Our ideas and prayers are with the McCombs household throughout this troublesome time.”

McCombs also played a big role in Formula One’s return to the United States. He was one of the largest investors in the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, the first purpose-built F1 racetrack in the U.S. and host of the U.S. Grand Prix since 2012.

The Texas circuit and annual grand prix were pivotal for the global racing series’ efforts to establish and grow a significant presence in the U.S. Formula One will race three times in the country in 2023: in Austin, Miami and the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

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McCombs owned more than 400 businesses during his lifetime, according to the McCombs Enterprises website, and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is named for him.

After working for and then later opening the first of his many car dealerships, McCombs later established McCombs Energy, an oil and gas industry company, and operated real estate and land development companies, cattle ranches and breeding operations. He also was a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, which later became iHeartCommunications, Inc.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called McCombs an inspiration and “a real Texas titan throughout sports activities, media, enterprise and philanthropy.”

“Red’s dedication, accomplishments and constructive spirit will stay without end as he embodied a relentless and passionate lifestyle, relationships and group,” Jones stated.

Charline McCombs, Red’s spouse, died in December 2019. He is survived by daughters Lynda McCombs, Marsha Shields and Connie McNab, in addition to eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.