“Dan and Tanya Snyder and the Washington Commanders announced today that they have engaged BofA Securities to consider potential transactions,” the Commanders said in their statement. “The Snyders remain committed to the team, all of its employees and its countless fans to bring the best product to the field and continue the work to set the gold standard for workplaces in the NFL.”
After buying out his minority partners in March 2021, Snyder and his family members own the entire franchise. Daniel Snyder led a group of investors who bought the team and its stadium in 1999 for $800 million from the estate of Jack Kent Cooke. Forbes estimated in August that the Commanders were worth $5.6 billion. A person familiar with NFL franchise transactions said Daniel Snyder had recently been interested in trying to sell minority stakes in the team but was unsure if that remained his intention. Two other people familiar with the inner workings of the NFL said it was unclear to them what Snyder intended to do.
“We are exploring all options,” a spokesman for the commanders said.
The pool of buyers for a minority stake in any NFL team is small, given the rapidly escalating values of franchises. Based on a $5.6 billion valuation, a 40% stake in Commanders would cost $2.24 billion. Minority stakes are usually reduced by around 20% because they have no power in team decision-making. Even at a 20% discount, $1.79 billion would be a steep price for buyers to pay for a minority stake in an asset they cannot control.
Additionally, any potential trade would require the approval of three-quarters of other team owners, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday. And such a vote would come at a time when Snyder is under intense scrutiny, under investigation by the NFL, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the DC and Virginia attorneys general. Before Snyder bought out his limited partners last year, the last sale of a minority stake in an NFL franchise was a December 2020 transaction between members of the Tennessee Titans-owning family.
The NFL declined to comment further Wednesday on the potential trade. In March, NFL owners approved a resolution endorsing diversity in franchise ownership.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has said in recent weeks that he and other NFL team owners should seriously consider voting to remove Snyder from CO ownership.
“I guess we’re going to get into more and more discussions about it,” Irsay said last month, speaking to reporters at a meeting of owners in New York. “It’s a difficult situation. I believe there is merit in removing him as the owner of the [Commanders]. I think that’s something we need to revisit. We have to look at all the evidence and we have to be thorough going forward. But I think it’s something that needs to be seriously considered. »
Irsay expanded on his comments in a phone interview on Friday: “I don’t know how this report is going to come out. But what has already come out is extremely disturbing, and I disagree with the process. And I probably disagree that we didn’t discuss something more serious, like him being removed from his tenure as owner. Like I said, that’s not something I’m saying we should do. I say this is something that needs to be seriously considered.
It would take a vote of at least three-quarters of the owners to remove Snyder from ownership. Several owners told the Post in September that they thought serious consideration could be given to trying to oust Snyder from the league’s ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell his franchise or by voting to remove him.
“He must sell,” said one of those owners at the time. “Some of us have to go up to him and tell him he has to sell.”
It was not immediately clear on Wednesday if any owners had urged Snyder to sell.
“I think there will be movement,” the same owner said in September. “We need to get 24 votes.”
That owner then said the NFL and the owners “need to make it happen like the NBA just did,” referring to Robert Sarver, the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The NBA suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found he used racial epithets and treated female employees to a different standard than their male counterparts, including other violations of this league’s policies. Sarver announced in September that it had begun the process of finding buyers for both franchises.
The current NFL investigation is being led by attorney Mary Jo White.
“Mary Jo White is continuing her examination,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “We don’t have any updates on a schedule.”
The league launched White’s investigation after Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and the team’s chief marketing officer, told a congressional roundtable in February that Snyder harassed her at a dinner party. team, putting his hand on her thigh and pressing her towards his limo. Snyder denied the accusations, calling them “outright lies”.
In June, The Post reported details of an employee’s claim that Snyder had sexually assaulted her during a flight in his private plane in April 2009. Later that year, the team accepted to pay $1.6 million to the employee, whom she fired, in a confidential settlement. In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s claims “baseless.”
In April, the House committee detailed allegations of financial impropriety by Snyder and the team in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Karl A. Racine, the Democratic District Attorney General, and Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares announced they would investigate. The team denied committing any financial irregularities.
Racine’s office has nearly completed its investigation and plans to take further action in the case, a person familiar with the investigation said last month.
“Today’s news that Dan and Tanya Snyder are considering selling the Washington Commanders is a good development for the team, its former and current employees and its many fans,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said. who represent more than 40 former employees of the team. said in a statement Wednesday. “We’ll have to see how that plays out, but obviously it could be a big step towards healing and closure for the many brave women and men who have come forward.”
The NFL has not said when White’s investigation will be complete. The league said White’s report, contrary to the findings of a previous team workplace investigation conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, will be made public.
The House committee is expected to report its findings in the coming weeks. Daniel Snyder participated in a sworn deposition with the committee remotely for more than 10 hours in July. Former team president Bruce Allen testified remotely for about 10 hours under subpoena in September.
In March, Snyder bought out his three limited partners — Dwight Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman, who collectively owned about 40% of the franchise — for $875 million. This transaction forced his 31 co-owners to grant him a waiver to incur an additional debt of $450 million, a debt he must repay by 2028.
The Post reported in November 2020 that Snyder’s backers received a $900 million offer from Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano, the billionaire co-founders of Clearlake Capital, and Feliciano’s wife, Kwanza Jones. The sale was stalled, people familiar with the situation said at the time, because Snyder was trying to exercise his right of first refusal by matching offers made to Smith and Rothman but not the offer made to Schar. This led to a dispute over whether Snyder had the right to exercise these rights selectively.
Eghbali and Feliciano were reportedly among bidders for the Denver Broncos, which were sold by the Pat Bowlen Trust in June to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton for $4.65 billion. It’s the most paid ever for an NFL franchise. The owners ratified the purchase of Walton in August.
Wednesday’s team announcement also comes with negotiations for public funding of a potential new stadium for stalled commanders. The state lawmaker who led efforts to lure commanders to Virginia said in June those attempts had been halted. State Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said then, “There was so much stuff out there that a lot of people are saying, ‘Saslaw, that thing has to wait.’ ”
Prior to Wednesday, commanders had said Snyder would not sell the team. A team spokesperson said following Irsay’s original public comments: “We are confident that when he has the opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that he there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.
In July 2021, the NFL announced that the team had been fined $10 million, based on Wilkinson’s investigation, and that Tanya Snyder would oversee day-to-day operations of the franchise for an indefinite period.