May 26, 2024

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Commanders sale: NFL finance committee unofficially votes to recommend sale to Josh Harris’ group, per report

The Washington Commanders sale from owner Daniel Snyder to Josh Harris and his group is almost officially complete. The NFL finance committee completed a remote vote to unofficially recommend the league’s owners approve the sale of the Commanders from Snyder to Harris on Monday, according to a report from the Washington Post. The committee’s vote was a “straw poll” in which the approval was unanimous. The official vote is reportedly expected to occur during an owners’ meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday. The sale of the Commanders by Daniel Snyder to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion needs a 75% approval rate from the owners, a yes vote from 24 of the 32 teams. The sale could be officially complete by Friday if the official owners votes occurs Thursday. 

The transaction will now be looked over by the league and its owners as part of the final approval process. The deal will set an NFL record for the most expensive sale in league history. The previous record of $4.65 billion was set last year by the Walton-Penner group when it purchased the Denver Broncos.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, an area native, and his impressive group of partners,” co-owners Tanya and Dan Snyder said in a statement released by the team in May. “We look forward to the prompt completion of this transaction and to rooting for Josh and the team in the coming years.”  

Harris also put out a statement in the release on behalf of the new ownership two months ago, conveying their enthusiasm to be closing a deal to become the new owners of the Commanders.

“On behalf of our entire ownership group — including Mitch Rales, my longtime sports business partner David Blitzer and Earvin Magic Johnson — I want to express how excited we are to be considered by the NFL to be the next owners of the Washington Commanders and how committed we are to delivering a championship-caliber franchise for this city and its fanbase.

“Growing up in Chevy Chase, I experienced first-hand the excitement around the team, including its three Super Bowl victories and long-term winning culture. We look forward to the formal approval of our ownership by the NFL in the months ahead and to having the honor to serve as responsible and accountable stewards of the Commanders franchise moving forward. 

“Thank you to Tanya and Dan Snyder and the staff of the Commanders for their partnership and cooperation throughout the sale process.

In addition to Mitch, David and Magic, our extraordinary ownership group includes local business leader Mark Ein, Lee Ainslie, Eric Holoman, Michael Li, owner of Range Group, the Morgan family, owners of Morgan Properties, the Santo Domingo family, Michael Sapir, Co-founder and CEO of ProShares, Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and Executive Chair and Andy Snyder amongst others. Together these individuals and families have the collective resources and shared commitment to support our vision for the Commanders. We look forward to running a world-class organization and making significant investments on and off the field to achieve excellence and have a lasting and positive impact on the community.”

Harris’ group on the verge of becoming the new owners has already reinvigorated excitement for the franchise, including that of Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs. The longtime coach won three Super Bowls in 16 seasons (1981-1992, 2005-2007) leading Washington. The 82-year-old released a statement in May (via NFL Media).

“I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Josh Harris and the leadership team during this process and fully support his efforts to lead the new ownership group of the Commanders. The NFL has grown a great deal since my time as a coach in this League, but what hasn’t changed is my belief that with great leadership from the top, the drive to win on the field and a commitment to culture — championship teams are created. Josh and his team share these values and I am committed to doing what I can to re-connect this great franchise to the community, fanbase, and alumni.”

Harris had previously bid for the Denver Broncos, meaning the league is familiar with him and his finances, which likely helps expedite the approval process.

Harris owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils. His group in the Commanders bid includes D.C.-area billionaire Mitchell Rales as well as Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos had been involved in the process, but there were questions throughout about his ability to fund a bid that would ultimately be approved by the league. Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told CNBC he submitted a bid of $5.6 billion but had to “draw a line in the sand” there instead of at the $6 billion asking price.

Puck News reported on April 12 that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was out of the running to buy the Commanders. One of the richest people in the world, Bezos could have easily outbid any other interested party.

One source posited in November to CBS Sports that Bezos could simply be a boogeyman used to drive the bidding price of the franchise up.

“If I’m the league, the longer I can keep him as a stalking horse, the better,” the source said then.

Now, the Commanders are set to have new ownership, ending Dan Snyder’s tumultuous 24 year-run leading the once-great franchise.