Tuesday October 3, 2023

Josh Harris’ Commanders Makeover Has Only Just Begun

  • Opening-day sellout, $40 million in stadium upgrades latest achievements for Harris
  • Once-embattled team has continued a period of rebirth in new ownership
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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October 3, 2023 | Podcast
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The closer he gets to the start of the 2023 NFL regular season, the more new Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris is doing things his embattled predecessor, Dan Snyder, couldn’t or wouldn’t.

Capping off what has already been a reinvigorating preseason, the team said it has sold out its season opener Sept. 10 at FedEx Field against Arizona. Normally, an NFL sellout would hardly be news — the league overall sells about 97% of its available tickets, and some teams have years-long waiting lists for tickets. 

But since the Commanders ranked last in NFL attendance in 2022 and next-to-last in 2021 — and have had their home stadium routinely taken over by visiting fans — this is still a significant step.

More Signs Of Change

FedEx Field, one of the NFL’s most poorly regarded stadiums under Snyder, will also get a $40 million upgrade to address a long history of neglect.

Those moves are just the latest in what has been a rapid commercial rebirth for the Commanders under Harris. Just since July, the team has seen resurgent momentum in its long, frustrating pursuit of a new stadium, as well as heightened sponsorship sales and standing-room-only crowds for practices.

There has been one possible headache for Harris, however: the team’s name.

Harris said upon closing the acquisition that any consideration of changing the Commanders name isn’t an immediate priority — not a surprise given the franchise’s more pressing needs. Still, speculation of another rebranding persists. 

Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann said last week that he thinks a name change is forthcoming in order to further distance the franchise from the Snyder era. That change, should it happen, will definitely not be a return to the Commanders’ controversial former name, team president Jason Wright said.

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