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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Deals

Josh Harris’ $6B Commanders Bid Advancing Like It’s Final

  • Even through Harris has not been declared the outright winner, the deal is being vetted like it's official.
  • Minus a setback, NFL owners are expected to vote to approve Harris at next month's meeting.
Josh Harris
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Harris hasn’t publicly been announced as the next owner of the Washington Commanders, although sources told Front Office Sports that his group’s effort has progressed at the league office as if it’s a done deal. 

Two weeks ago, FOS and other outlets reported that there was a tentative deal in place. But two sources with knowledge of the process said Harris’ $6.05 billion bid has advanced to a point where it is expected to get a vote the league’s owners gather in Minnesota next month. 

That review is anticipated to be completed by May 10 when the NFL finance committee meets, and Sports Illustrated previously reported Harris’ group would give a presentation at that meeting.

Once that’s concluded, one source said a full ownership vote would likely be scheduled. The next owners meetings will begin on May 22. 

At least three-fourths of owners (24 or more) are required to approve a new owner, which one source said is “a lock.” 

By early June, another source told FOS that the transfer in ownership will be complete, and Dan Snyder’s tumultuous reign as owner of the franchise that began in 1999 will officially conclude. 

Snyder would exit with a global record purchase price for a sports franchise.

Less than an hour before the the first round of the NFL Draft, Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a televised interview that “progress is being made” with the sale and “hopefully (that progress will) lead to them being comfortable to announce some type of a transaction probably by the middle of May or late May.”

A Commanders spokesperson declined comment. A message left with an NFL spokesperson was not returned Thursday.

Harris has more than a dozen limited partners as part of his ownership group, including fellow billionaire Maryland native Mitchell Rales. Magic Johnson and security firm chairman Mark Ein are also among the future co-owners of the team.

Harris, who co-owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner, had been the lone legit contender to purchase the Commanders for at least a month. His ascent became more of a lock as Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos dropped out of the process in recent weeks.

There were other names in the mix, including Canadian businessman Steve Apostolopoulos and former Duke men’s basketball player Brian Davis. But neither were considered serious contenders for the team, sources told FOS.

The NFL’s review of Harris and his limited partners includes financial and criminal checks. After that review, the proposal would be presented to the NFL finance committee. The process typically takes about two months.

Last August, owners came together for a special meeting to approve Rob Walton’s $4.65 billion purchase of the Denver Broncos.

In November, the Commanders announced that they were “exploring all options, ” including a full sale of the team Snyder purchased for $750 million in 1999. 

The Commanders made only six playoff appearances during Snyder’s 24 years as owner. But the team’s issues off the field — including a toxic workplace that had persisted within the team for years, and an inability to secure a new stadium — is what ultimately led to talk among other owners to mount a push to remove Snyder.

That effort to make Snyder the first owner in NFL history to be removed was paused when Snyder put the team on the market.

While the House Oversight Committee concluded its probe in December, that investigation sparked multiple other investigations of financial irregularities and holding back ticket deposits from fans — many allegations first reported by FOS.

The attorneys general in Maryland and D.C. settled with the Commanders over allegations related to ticket deposits, although a second lawsuit in D.C. is still active.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and a second outside NFL probe led by former SEC chief Mary Jo White remain ongoing.

Snyder had sought as much as $7 billion for the franchise, sources previously told FOS.

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