BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Dan Snyder era is officially over.
NFL owners voted unanimously to approve Josh Harris’ $6.05 billion purchase of the Washington Commanders at a special meeting on Thursday.
The vote effectively closes the most expensive transaction for a sports franchise ever — and, in turn, ends Snyder’s 24-year run that produced more controversies than success. Just as the NFL confirmed the results of the vote, the league announced it had levied a $60 million fine and released the findings from the Mary Jo White investigation.
“Obviously, it was a long process,” Harris said following the vote. “Sometimes that’s what happens. We’re very excited to get to work and to start the new era of Washington football. We are humbled and awed by the level of responsibility that we have to take care of the city and to win championships. and really to excite the fans again.”
Harris needed at least 24 votes for approval; he received all 32, including from Dan Snyder’s longtime lawyer, Norm Chirite, who represented Snyder here.
Harris, the managing owner of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers, enters with 20 limited partners — four under the NFL limit. The co-owners include David Blitzer — Harris’ partner with the Devils and 76ers — along with billionaire Mitchell Rales, Magic Johnson, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and security firm exec Mark Ein.
Harris now has full control of the franchise that — despite the record purchase price — needs a lot of work through a mix of neglect and controversies under Snyder. Harris grew up just outside D.C. in Maryland where he rooted for the Commanders as did Rales and others in the ownership group.
“One of my first memories as a child was walking down East Capitol Street to RFK Stadium, [and] hearing the roar of the crowd and feeling the rumble,” Harris said. “I grew up watching Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer, Joe Theismann, Mark Rypien , Doug Williams, The Hogs, Joe Gibbs, Darryl Green and the three Super Bowls.
“But being a fan is not enough to be successful. We understand that we need to win championships, create a positive impact on the community, and create incredible memories and great experiences for our fan base.”
At the top of the list is seeking a new stadium to replace FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Johnson met with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore in the spring as part of that effort. However, a potential move back to D.C. or Northern Virginia could be in the offing.
In a statement released Thursday after the vote made Harris’ purchase official, Moore said in a statement that his administration “has already put forward major economic and transportation investments near FedEx Field along the Blue Line Corridor, which includes $400 million in state funding.”
“Maryland is excited to welcome this new leadership group and looks forward to working together on a vision for the next generation of Commanders football,” Moore’s statement continued.
Snyder put the team on the market in November, and it took several weeks before it became clear he was going to offload the entire franchise e led an ownership group to purchase for $800 million in 1999.
At this hotel attached to Mall of America nearly a year ago, the last NFL team Harris bid on changed hands at a special meeting. Walmart heir Rob Walton outmaneuvered Harris to acquire the Denver Broncos for a $4.65 billion purchase.