A former owner of two NBA teams, an NFL franchise and longtime Texas businessman, Billy Joe “Red” McCombs has died at his home in San Antonio, according to a statement from his family on Monday.
McCombs was 95 and preceded in death by his wife, Charline, in 2019.
“The entire McCombs family is heartbroken to announce that our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Red McCombs passed away Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023,” according to the statement that called McCombs “a Texas icon.”
“Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways,” the statement said. “But to us he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’”
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.
He twice owned the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and between those two ownership stints owned the league’s Denver Nuggets and later the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.
In a statement, the Vikings expressed gratitude to McCombs and condolences to his family.
“Red embodied his famous ‘Purple Pride’ phrase and remained a staunch Vikings fan” after selling his ownership of the team, according to the statement.
“While Red had a clear passion for sports, it was evident what he loved the most were his children and grandchildren,” the statement said.
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 and Miami and the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Beginning as an automobile salesman in the early 1950s in Corpus Christi, Texas, he would later establish Red McCombs Automotive, a group of dealerships in San Antonio.
He 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 true Texas titan across sports, media, business and philanthropy.”
“Red’s determination, accomplishments and positive spirit will live forever as he embodied a relentless and passionate approach to life, relationships and community,” Jones said.
McCombs is survived by daughters Lynda McCombs, Marsha Shields and Connie McNab, as well as eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were not announced.