When the news broke that Dan and Tanya Snyder had hired Bank of America Securities to explore all possibilities for the sale of all of part of the Washington Commanders NFL franchise, fans rejoiced at the prospect of finally being free of the most dysfunctional owner in professional sports. Potential bidders like the Jeff Bezos/Jay-Z pairing quickly made headlines, along with a handful of other billionaires who have either expressed interest in owning an NFL team, or have the means to facilitate not only the purchase of the team, but also the construction of a new stadium.
Fans have been riding that initial wave of joy, and a few winning streaks after a 2-4 start that put them unexpectedly back into the playoff hunt, since the news broke. But where does that potential sale stand 7 weeks later? We’ve already had an owners meeting that didn’t give much in the way of news, but did lead to some speculation that Snyder might not actually be selling the team, or at least not on the fast track timeline that has been put out there by many pundits. Owners were tight-lipped, and even Jim Irsay did a little clarification on his previous comments.
“It hasn’t changed, but I need more information. Again, guys, this is a big decision. And I’ve said from the beginning I was only interested in finding out more because there’s a lot of concern there, and there’s merit to look at that possibility [of forcing a sale]. But I only said to give it consideration and look at it. I never said vote him out. It’s something that’s a big deal. We’ll see what the new year brings.”
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform finally released their report on Dan Snyder, the Washington Commanders toxic workplace, and the NFL’s role in protecting them both from further scrutiny, and potentially prosecution. The NFL has also launched a second investigation into Snyder and the team that is led by Mary-Jo White, and is still ongoing.
Back to the potential sale of the team, and the news that has been trickling out since the initial announcement. A week ago it was reported that Bank of America would be releasing a prospectus on the Washington Commanders to qualified potential buyers. The Washington Post story noted that those documents likely wouldn’t reveal whether the Snyders intend to sell the whole franchise, but that was still the most-likely outcome.
On Monday, CBS Sports had an update on the bidding process:
The first round of the bidding process for the sale of all, some, or potentially none of the Washington Commanders closes at the end of this week, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The Washington Commanders predictably declined to comment on the CBS story, and Dan Snyder continues to let reporters and fans speculate about his true intentions.
Skeptical fans are waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Snyder to find a reason to not sell, while digging in even deeper. From reports to him hiring investigators to dig up dirt on other owners, and NFL executives including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to speculation that he is smoking out Jeff Bezos as a potential bidder and the source of an extensive campaign to get him removed as owner.
Fans who believe there is no reason to doubt that Snyder has had enough of the constant bad press, investigations, and other invasions into his personal and financial life are taking every piece of news like this as the logical next step in a full sale of the team, even if he won’t outright say that is his intention.
This game could go on for months, or years, depending on what the Snyder’s true intentions are with this potential sale. They are going through the motions right now, but if the speculation that he would refuse to sell to Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is true, that would take the biggest bidder off the table. Another possible bidder has likely been eliminated with yesterday’s news that Mat Ishbia would be buying the Phoenix Suns from another owner on the outs, Robert Sarver. The deal is expected to be in the neighborhood of $4 billion. Ishbia was a bidder for the Denver Broncos, and had expressed interest in the Commanders.
If Dan Snyder is not actually planning on selling the entire team, the NFL and the 31 other ownership groups have options to continue to squeeze him financially. He was granted a $450 million debt waiver to buy out the team’s three minority owners that must be repaid to his debtors by 2027. Snyder continues to have difficulty securing any kind of public funding for a new stadium which is reportedly a bigger issue for some other owners than the sexual harassment allegations, toxic workplace, investigations at the local, state, and federal level, and the franchise’s loss of it’s grip on the fanbase.
The stadium issue is a major weakness for Snyder, and one that he was working on while “away from the team” after the findings of the NFL’s first investigation into the team led by Beth Wilkinson. The constant black cloud associated with the team has had an influence on potential arrangements in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The deal to buy out his disgruntled partners put more pressure to find a partnership for a shiny new stadium, but when that dried up, another option could be a sale of part of the team that keeps him as the majority owner, but gives him the cashflow needed to possibly build a new stadium, even if he has to do it right next to the old one of the large stake of land he owns. The catch there is that NFL owners have to approve all ownership sales, even ones that aren’t for a minority stake, and this could be blocked.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed spending $500,000 to study ways to encourage the National Football League franchise to build a stadium in the state after lawmakers rebuffed the team earlier this year.
This comes in the form of a proposed budget amendment, and would not happen until 2024. This is presumed to be made as a, “If Dan Snyder is no longer the owner of the Washington Commanders” proposal that would look to sway the new owner to a new home from a first-term governor who would likely make a big splash with constituents by bringing an NFL team to the state for the first time.
For now that is a big what if as we wait for the news most people want to hear, “Dan Snyder has announced the sale of the Washington Commanders to...”