Josh Harris, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, has agreed in principle to buy the Washington Commanders for a record $6 billion from Dan Snyder, the longtime owner of a team plagued by scandals that have rocked the NFL, Was investigated by Congress and others. government agencies.
With the end of Snyder’s tenure, the NFL begins to distance itself from a painful chapter in league history and recover the future of the popular franchise, which under Snyder was tarnished by allegations of a toxic workplace and a new Was unable to secure the stadium.
sales, First reported by SporticoThe agreement was confirmed by multiple people with knowledge of the deal who were not authorized to speak publicly about the terms.
The settlement comes as the NFL continues its second investigation into widespread sexual assault allegations made against officials at the team, including Snyder, as well as possible financial impropriety. Those accusations, along with Snyder’s inability to build a new stadium and the reaction of the team’s fans, prompted several owners of the league’s other teams to consider voting to force them to sell the team. , which he bought in 1999 for $800 million. ,
Once the Harris Group submits its deal, the sale must be approved by the league’s finance committee and at least three-quarters of the 31 other team owners, which could happen within weeks. Harris’s group includes Mitchell Rails, a billionaire from the Washington, D.C., area, and a group of limited partners that includes Magic Johnson.
The owners will next meet in person as a group on May 22 and 23 in Minneapolis. Last June, the Walton family of Walmart founders bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, nearly double the previous record high for an NFL team. ,
Spokesmen for the commanders, the NFL and Josh Harris declined to comment on the settlement.
Snyder and his wife, Tanya, the team’s co-owner, formally began the search for a buyer in November 2022, when they hired Bank of America to seek offers for all or a portion of the Commanders. The outfield offer came just weeks after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed that Snyder “needs to be fired,” what he had been saying privately for months.
In recent years, Snyder has faced an increasing series of scandals and legal challenges. In July 2020, Snyder cited years of pressure, including from one of the team’s largest sponsors, FedEx, and agreed to change its longtime name, which many perceived as an offense against Native Americans. Considered stigma.
Weeks later, dozens of women accused Snyder and top executives of sexually harassing female employees. Snyder hired a prominent Washington attorney to investigate the allegations, which were detailed in The Washington Post, but the league quickly took over the investigation.
Snyder sued his limited partners, claiming that they tried to tarnish his reputation in order to dilute their ownership of the team, leading to a highly contentious legal battle that included allegations that Snyder had defrauded the club. Financially mismanaged. The dispute went to a league-appointed arbitrator and ended in the spring of 2021 when the owners allowed Snyder to take out $450 million in additional loans so he could buy out three limited partners whose stakes totaled 40 percent of the club. .
In July 2021, the league fined the club a record $10 million and ordered Snyder to stay away from the team after a league-helmed investigation found a pervasive culture of sexual harassment perpetrated by managers and officials on the team. Persisted for more than one time. decade, and that Snyder did nothing to stop it.
Although some officials were fired and others were released, Snyder urged the league to keep the specific findings private, and commissioner Roger Goodell released only a cursory summary. This led a congressional committee to launch its own investigation into the treatment of women in the team’s front office. Witnesses testified to the new claims against Snyder, who was deposed for more than 11 hours.
After new allegations surfaced, the league ordered a second investigation led by Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor. The NFL has yet to release its findings.
In November 2022, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia opened a criminal investigation into allegations that the team committed financial improprieties. Snyder and the team were sued by the Attorney General of Virginia and the District of Columbia. The latter case was settled, with the team agreeing to pay a fine of $425,000 and return approximately $200,000 of deposits to season-ticket holders.
Amid legal inquiries and low public support, Snyder faced significant challenges in building a new stadium in the area to replace the old FedEx Field, which opened in 1997 and was plagued by pipe leaks and other structural failures.
The Commanders finished with a winning record of only six out of 24 seasons and won just two playoff games under Snyder. The defeat, along with the creaking stadium, began to repel fans. The team regularly played to sellout crowds during the 1980s and 90s, but has ranked near the bottom of the NFL in home attendance in recent seasons.
Nevertheless, in 2022 Forbes ranked the Commanders as the eighth most valuable team in sports thanks to windfall gains ensured by the NFL’s revenue sharing model and football’s media rights deals, ahead of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the Premier League’s Manchester United. Gave. ,
jenny varents Contributed reporting.