Washington Commanders nearing $6 billion sale to Sixers co-owner Josh Harris

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A group led by Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales that includes Magic Johnson has an agreement in principle to buy the NFL’s Washington Commanders from longtime owner Dan Snyder for an American professional sports team record $6 billion, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal has not been finalized. Another person told the AP that an agreement has not yet been sent to the league for approval.

A spokesman for the commanders said the team was not in a position to comment. The league declined to comment.

Once the deal is approved, Harris would own stakes in teams in three of the four major American professional sports leagues. He and David Blitzer have owned the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers since 2011 and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils since 2013.

The news was first reported by Sportico.

That price for the Commanders shatters what Harris and Blitzer paid for those organizations and surpasses the previous record of $4.65 billion set when Walmart heir Rob Walton’s group bought the Denver Broncos last year. Johnson, the basketball Hall of Famer who also owns part of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, was also part of Harris’ bid for the Broncos.

Rales, co-founder of the Danaher Corporation and resident of Maryland, and Johnson were relatively late additions to the group. Rales and Harris grew up in Bethesda in the Washington suburbs and rooted for the locally owned team.

The sale of the Commanders is pending the execution of a contract and then the approval of the rest of the owners of the league. It would take 24 of 32 votes to pass, which isn’t expected to be a problem after the sale of the Broncos was approved unanimously and given that Snyder was beginning to fall out of favor with the group.

Snyder bought his childhood team in 1999 for $750 million and, despite mounting criticism, repeatedly said he would never sell. That changed after multiple investigations by the league and the US Congress into Washington’s labor misconduct and possible wrongdoing. The congressional investigation found that Snyder played a role in a toxic culture.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in October became the first to suggest there was “merit to remove” Snyder, a nearly unprecedented move that also would have required a three-quarters majority. Instead, two weeks later, Snyder and his wife Tanya hired Bank of America Securities to explore a possible sale of the team.

It quickly became apparent that the Snyders, who bought out the previous minority owners in 2021, were not looking for new investors to buy and maintain a controlling stake. Canadian investor Steve Apostolopoulos and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta were among the other bidders after initial interest from D.C.-area businessman Todd Boehly and mortgage broker Mat Ishbia, who instead it paid $4 billion to buy the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury.

Commanders hire former Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

Commanders hire former Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

The group led by Apostolopoulos was the only other one to submit a fully funded bid.

Harris and Rales are taking over an old franchise that has fallen far from the glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s, when Washington won the Super Bowl three times. The team made the playoffs just six times in 24 seasons, won a postseason game just twice and went 166-226-2 overall with Snyder at the helm.

They inherit coach Ron Rivera, who has led Washington’s football operations for three seasons, head with a winning record, including a 7-9 NFC East title in 2020 followed by a first-round loss.

His biggest immediate challenge to the organization’s long-term future is a new stadium to replace FedEx Field, the team’s home that has been rushed to completion since 1997 in Landover, Md., which has not aged well. well Virginia dropped the stadium bill last spring given the amount of off-field controversy surrounding the team.

Getting fans back is a top priority after Washington ranked last in the league in attendance in 2022 and 2021. The team last year changed its name to the Commanders after shedding the Redskins name l summer of 2020 and go through Washington Football. Team for two seasons.

It was not immediately clear how much latitude Harris and Rales might have to make their own changes to the team’s name, logo or other aspects of the design, or if they have any interest in changing course when they take over.

Report from The Associated Press.

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