The sale of the Washington Commanders remained in a stalemate this week, a lull in activity that came amid more damaging headlines for owner Dan Snyder.
Sources told Front Office Sports that there are multiple factors as to why the process that just a week ago seemed to be coming to a crescendo has stalled. One source laid out the biggest: Jeff Bezos.
The will-he-or-won’t-he intrigue over when — or even if — the Amazon founder will make a move had led to some paralysis among the others interested in acquiring the Commanders, which have been on the market since November.
One barrier to Bezos — Snyder’s reluctance to sell to him — would be removed if the owners make a clear signal that they’re serious about removal, another source said. It will take 24 owners to agree on removal, something that’s never happened in league history.
The NFL’s next league meeting is scheduled to begin March 26 in Phoenix.
The Commanders have declined comment on the potential sale of the team since it began. In response to this article, the Commanders issued their third response this week over a published report.
“Front Office Sports tonight posted a blatantly false report regarding the ongoing process involving a potential Commanders transaction,” a the statement read. “The Team will continue its efforts to protect the confidentiality and integrity of its process,” Upon the conclusion of the process, the position of the Commanders will be announced by the team. Transactions of this nature are highly confidential, and few people are involved in the inner workings. As such, anonymously sourced stories purporting to be factual should not be believed.”
FOS stands by its reporting.
The other factors for the slow sale process include:
- The financials for the Commanders that have been reviewed by those interested in acquiring the team paint a fairly bleak picture. The Commanders — which were among the most profitable franchises in the NFL when Snyder purchased the team in 1999 — are at or near the bottom in multiple categories from ticket to merchandise revenue.
- The cost of a new stadium is expected to be at least $3 billion. The NFL’s G-4 loan program maxes out at $200 million and without certainty of public financing, so the next owner will have to foot a major chunk of construction.
- The NFL’s biggest revenue stream — media rights — are locked in for the next decade, the last coming with YouTubeTV’s deal to take over NFL Sunday Ticket. While they are worth well north of $100 billion, there’s no guarantee about what the TV landscape will look like beyond 2033.
Meanwhile, the recent reports about Snyder haven’t exactly led to confidence in the bidding process.
The Washington Post reported that Snyder was looking for the other owners to pick up the tab for any financial fallout from the multiple ongoing investigations and the two lawsuits filed by the D.C. Attorney General’s office last year.
A federal investigation that has led to at least one subpoena includes allegations that Snyder obtained a $55 million loan without the knowledge or content of the team’s board of directors, according to ESPN.
The Commanders have denied the allegations in both stories.
The reports coupled with the lengthy sales process have reignited a push to remove Snyder that was paused when the potential sale process began. If Snyder opts to keep the team or if the sale process drags out much longer, sources told FOS that a removal process will certainly gain momentum.
While Bezos entering a bid remains unknown, sources said the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris remains the most likely non-Bezos candidate to acquire the team.
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta entered a bid that The Washington Post reported was slightly more than $5.5 billion.