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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The True Cost of Buying The Commanders Could Approach $10B

  • If the Commanders hit the market, the franchise could go for a record $6B or more.
  • Beyond the cost of the team, a new stadium will run into the billions.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have one playoff victory over the last 17 years, an apathetic fanbase and an outmoded stadium. 

That won’t stop the Commanders from almost certainly becoming the priciest sports franchise to ever change hands if majority owner Dan Snyder follows through with a sale of the franchise. 

One NFL team executive told Front Office Sports Wednesday — shortly after Snyder and his wife, co-CEO Tanya Snyder, announced the hire of a bank “to consider potential transactions” — that the Commanders could fetch $6 billion or more. 

At $5.3 billion, the sale of Chelsea FC earlier this year holds the worldwide sales record. Walmart heir Rob Walton’s purchase of the Denver Broncos ($4.65B) that was approved in August is the highest for a North American pro sports team. 

And the Commanders could go for multiples more than the costliest franchises among the four major sports:

  • New York Mets ($2.4B): purchased by hedge fund manager Steve Cohen in 2020.
  • Brooklyn Nets ($2.35B): bought by Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai in 2019. 
  • Pittsburgh Penguins ($900M): acquired by Fenway Sports Group in 2021. 

In 1999, Snyder led an ownership group that paid $850 million to acquire the Commanders. 

Last year, Snyder shelled out nearly $1 billion to buy out the 40% he or his family didn’t control last year. That upped Snyder’s personal stake in the Commanders to at least 80%. Family members own the rest of the team. 

NFL owners approved a debt waiver for Snyder to buy out the co-owners and much of the cost was financed in part through Bank of America, the firm that the Snyders tapped to handle a potential sale of the team. 

Dan Snyder

Snyder ‘Exploring All Options’ With Potential Commanders Sale

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder announced the hire of Bank of America…
November 2, 2022

A new owner likely won’t be done shelling out money when and if he or she acquires the Commanders and is approved by three-quarters of NFL ownership.

There’d almost certainly be a push for a new stadium, something that Snyder had struggled with over the last several months. 

The Commanders had been looking to build a $3 billion domed stadium in Northern Virginia, although the team has been unable to secure public funding. 

A new owner — minus the specter of multiple investigations and other baggage — could have better luck with the effort. There’s also the possibility that a change of ownership could lead to a renewed push into D.C. at the site of RFK Stadium, where the team called home for decades before the move into FedEx Field in 1997. 

That won’t be an easy task since the site is controlled by the National Parks Service. 

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill that would transfer the land to the city, but the bill hasn’t made it to the floor as Congress and the attorney’s general office for D.C. have open investigations into Snyder and the Commanders. 

Minus public money, the new owner may have to spend upward of $10 billion when the cost of a team and a new stadium are added together.

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