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  • Writer's pictureHanna Lambert

Snyder’s Sale of the Commanders Solves More Than Just Workplace Issues for the Organization

Updated: Jan 17

In light of recent legal accusations surrounding the Washington Commanders franchise, Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, announced that he and his wife are looking into options to sell the team. The removal of Snyder as NFL team owner, in light of governmental financial misconduct investigations and the toxic workplace accusations, has been a topic heavily discussed by media outlets and fellow team owners for months leading up to the announcement.

Dan and Tanya Snyder hired Bank of America to explore two potential sale routes: (1) sale of the entire franchise, or (2) sale of just minority shares.[2] Before 2021, Snyder owned a controlling 59.5% of the organization.[3] He bought out the 40.5% minority share of the team that was owned by Dwight Schar, Robert Rothman, and Frederick Smith in 2021 through a special waiver approved by the NFL with hopes to end a very public feud between the owners that added to the already tense work environment within the organization at the time.[4] Should Snyder only wish to sell the recently acquired 40.5%, he would still hold the majority controlling share of the company. At this time, it is unclear which sale route the Snyders will choose.[5] The team is currently valued at $5.6 billion by Forbes.[6]

The sale of the Commanders has the potential to set records within the league for the highest selling team, and continue to raise the financial stakes of the NFL as a competitive organization. The current record for highest NFL team sale is held by the Denver Broncos, sold to Walton-Penner group for $4.65 billion in August.[7] Despite its Forbes valuation, ESPN reported earlier this month that Snyder’s threshold to sell the Commanders could be as high as $8 billion, generously exceeding the threshold for the Broncos sale, which has the potential to reshape the financial landscape of not only NFL team sales, but sales of professional teams around the world.[8]

Selling the team at such a high price not only limits who can buy the team, but also ensures that the team’s next owner can afford much needed franchise renovations. Of the many improvements needed, FedEx Field is a major contention point financially and politically for both the Commanders organization and lawmakers in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in all three aforementioned geographical areas vetoed the possibility of the Commanders building a new stadium within their jurisdictions, with many citing the team’s old name and Snyder himself (who is currently being investigated for sexual harassment claims from former employees) as main contention points for rejecting the project.[9] The other issue for lawmakers, specifically those in Maryland, is that the Commanders organization requested that the jurisdiction helps to pay for the new stadium – suggesting that taxpayer dollars go towards the construction of the new field.[10]

However, should Snyder decide to sell the majority share of the team to a new owner, there is a possibility that these two major obstacles regarding the construction of the new stadium could be alleviated. The team rebranded itself in February 2022 with the release of its new name, the Washington Commanders, settling a decades-long dispute.[11] Further, Snyder selling the team either partially or entirely could encourage lawmakers to become more agreeable to the idea of a new stadium working alongside new ownership.

Therefore, the only major remaining issue would be determining the finances necessary to have a new stadium built. This financial question could be resolved based on the theory that the individual(s) willing to pay upwards of $8 billion for ownership of the team would also have the funds necessary to pay for all or a significant portion of a new stadium.

The current state of FedEx Field, the Commanders current stadium, is one of the largest off-field problems for the organization as of late. FedEx Field has been deemed unsafe by opposing teams and game attendees many times. The most recent serious safety incident at the stadium occurred in January 2022 when the Eagles played the Commanders. After the game, the railing over the north field tunnel exit point collapsed, resulting in injuries to fans and narrowly missed hitting Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.[12] The possibility of a stadium’s wear and tear resulting in injury to NFL players makes the issue of building a new stadium even more pressing for the Commanders.

It can be assumed the Commanders, like any team in the league, would want fans and other teams to visit their home stadium without fear of being injured by structural defects. With Dan Snyder’s removal as owner now a real possibility, the potential sale of the Commanders organization has the potential to shape the legal and financial landscape of sports team ownership, generate high profits for the NFL, and usher in a new wave of financial prosperity for the Commanders organization.

References: [2] Alex Sherman and Jessica Goldman. Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder hires Bank of America to explore possible sale. (2 November 2022) [3] Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman. NFL Clears Way for End to Washington Football Team Turmoil. (12 October 2021) [4] Id. [5] Id. [6] Id. [7] Jeff Legwold. NFL owners unanimously approve $4.65 billion sale of Denver Broncos to Walton-Penner group. (9 August 2022) [8] Don Van Natta. For Sale: Washington Commanders. (7 November 2022) [9] John Henry and Eric Flack. If the Snyders sell the Commanders, would that change the stadium debate. (3 November 2022) [10] Id. [11] John Keim. Washington selects Commanders as new NFL team name after two-season process. (2 February 2022) [12] Andy Berg. 'Dangerous Situation' at FedEx Field as Railing Fails. (3 January 2022)

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