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Josh Harris has reached an agreement in principle to buy the Washington Commanders for $6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Harris and Commanders owner Dan Snyder hope to finalize a deal in the coming days, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the transaction publicly.
Harris declined to comment. A representative for the commanders declined to comment.
The deal between Snyder and a group led by Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Harris would end one of the most tumultuous and controversial franchises in modern American sports.
Harris’ team includes billionaire Mitchell Rales and former NBA star Magic Johnson.
Negotiations over the past six months have come amid persistent fears that Jeff Bezos, the world’s third-richest man, will submit a bid. Bezos is worth $124 billion, nearly double the NFL’s next-richest owner, but never submitted an offer.
If the deal goes through, it would surpass the $4.6 billion Rob Walton paid for the NFL’s Denver Broncos last year as the highest price ever paid for a sports team.
It would also end Snyder’s 24-year ownership tenure, which has been strained by fans and fellow owners distancing themselves amid allegations of a hostile workplace culture and financial missteps. Those controversies fueled speculation about whether the league would consider the unprecedented move to remove the franchise, talks that continued even after Snyder retained Bank of America to explore a possible sale.
A co-founder of Apollo Global Management, Harris, who grew up in the DC area, wanted to grow his sports portfolio beyond Harris Plitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center. He is also an investor in English soccer club Crystal Palace, who have finished second in bids for both the Broncos and the New York Mets in the past few years. Rales is co-founder of Danaher Corp. (NYSE: DHR)
Snyder bought the Commanders, then known as the Washington Redskins, in 1999 for $800 million. At the time, it was the most prestigious sports team in the world, but it slipped through the years due to struggles on and off the field. Sporty The team is currently valued at $4.8 billion, which ranks eighth in the league.
The Commanders have made the playoffs just five times since the 1999 season, and have won just one postseason game (2005). In the NFC, only the Detroit Lions went longer after their last playoff victory. Generals are average 58,106 The number of home fans last season was the lowest total in the NFL.
That attendance slump — the team average 83,172 Fans finished second in the league in 2010—showing the extent to which Chiefs fans turned on Snyder amid the team’s many controversies. They include a wide range of long-term reports Workplace HarassmentCongressional Inquiry Financial malpracticeand his staunch opposition to changing the racist group’s name among others (he eventually relented in 2020).
The sale also comes ahead of another investigation into the stewardship of Snyder’s team. The NFL hired former SEC president Mary Jo White to look at the franchise last year, and that report is expected to be released in the coming weeks or months.
As the Snyder drama escalated, so did frustration within the NFL and the other 31 franchises. In October, ESPN reported Snyder said he had “dirt” on other owners that he could use if they turned against him. Shortly thereafter, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay became the first publicly They say Snyder should be fired, and the pressure has been mounting ever since. However, the process of getting rid of him was complicated, and may have set a precedent for other NFL franchises to be fired in the future.
One of the new ownership group’s first priorities will be a new stadium. FedEx Field, the team’s current home in Maryland, opened in 1997 and lacked the revenue-generating trappings of newer NFL arenas. That would be an expensive endeavor, especially if public funding isn’t available — a new stadium privately funded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke in Los Angeles would be expensive. $5 billion– but it will improve the economy going forward for commanders.