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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Deals

Commanders Owner Dan Snyder Holding Out for More

  • Josh Harris remains the only contender for the franchise with a bid that can survive the vetting process.
  • Snyder appears ready to wait and see if another bidder emerges to push price beyond $6B.
Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder looking upset while crossing arms on sideline of NFL game
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders are headquartered in Northern Virginia where the average house sells in 34 days

The team has been on the market for 159 days — and so far there is only one legitimate offer.

And that offer from Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris isn’t one that  Commanders owner Dan Snyder is quite ready to accept for his fixer-upper franchise. 

FOS reported nearly two weeks ago Harris’ group — which includes billionaire industrial firm founder Mitchell Rales and NBA legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson — entered a bid between $5.5 billion and $6 billion. 

Meanwhile, Snyder is hoping there’s enough curb appeal for another bidder to enter the picture — and he may need Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to make that a reality. Bezos hired a banking firm, but has not entered the bidding process.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta hasn’t been engaged in the process for weeks, one source said.

Canadian businessman Steve Apostolopoulos, who ESPN reported last month had entered a “submitted a fully funded $6 billion offer.” In the same story, it was reported Apostolopoulos attended Harvard. 

Three sources have told FOS that Apostolopoulos hasn’t been able to assemble enough partners and financing to satisfy Bank of America, the firm handling the sale. Also, Apostolopoulos never attended Harvard. 

Apostolopoulos has made multiple trips to the DC area in recent weeks beyond just visiting the Commanders facilities. Since he’s emerged as a candidate last month, one source said Apostolopoulos has been “dialing for dollars” in an attempt to make a bid that’d stick.

Harris can meet the 30% liquidity threshold required by the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. If the team sells for $6 billion, that means the would-be controlling owner has to have $1.8 billion cash as part of the transaction. 

Snyder doesn’t appear to have much leverage to nudge Harris to up his bid, outside Harris’ focus on becoming an NFL team owner after he lost out on Denver Broncos last year. 

While there have been worries since the potential sale was announced in November that Snyder could end up keeping the team, in reality, that remains unlikely. 

Snyder and the Commanders are still subject to at least three open investigations: a federal probe, one by the Virginia Attorney General, and an outside NFL inquiry. The NFL’s outside investigation by former SEC chief Mary Jo White is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

On Monday, D.C. Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb announced a settlement in one of the two lawsuits filed against the Commanders over allegations the team “systematically” withheld season ticket holder deposits. The Commanders will pay D.C. $425,000 and return more than $200,000 to impacted ticket holders.

“Rather than being transparent and upfront in their ticket sale practices, the Commanders unlawfully took advantage of their fan base, holding on to security deposits instead of returning them,” Schwalb said in a statement. “Under this settlement agreement, our office will maintain strict oversight over the Commanders to ensure all necessary steps are taken to reimburse fans for the refunds they are entitled to.”

Commanders president Jason Wright struck down the possibility of Snyder not selling in an interview with The Washington Times

With a winning bidder expected to be announced ahead of next month’s owners’ meetings, Snyder has time to hold out for a few weeks longer. Harris’ bid isn’t all that far off from one Snyder would accept, one source said. 

A source said Snyder remains at least somewhat reluctant to sell to Bezos, who has owned The Washington Post for a decade. 

But Bezos could be the only billionaire to get the Commanders sale price beyond $6 billion — a number a source said Snyder would accept no matter which financially sound contender made it. 

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