ASHBURN — If the Washington Commanders are indeed on the market, there will be no shortage of potential buyers, if recent major sports franchise trends hold true. Especially as they pertain to the NFL.
The Commanders announced Wednesday that Dan and Tanya Snyder have hired a banking firm to explore “potential transactions,” including a sale.
Forbes reported that Dan Snyder has already taken four calls from groups interested in buying the team. The financial news site estimated back in August that the team is worth $5.6 billion, a valuation boosted by the above-expected $4.65 billion the Denver Broncos fetched on the open market earlier this year.
Here’s a look at who could be in the running for the Commanders:
Jeff Bezos, Amazon: Bezos, it seems, is routinely linked to any NFL team that comes up for sale. But Front Office Sports reported Wednesday that Bezos would be the “leading candidate” if the Commanders are sold. The world’s third-richest man, Bezos already has ties to the area as he owns the Washington Post, has a mansion in the District and brought Amazon’s headquarters to Arlington, Virginia. Earlier this season, Bezos was seen sitting next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a Chargers-Chiefs game.
Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano, Clearlake Capital: In 2020, Eghbali and Feliciano reportedly had a deal to buy the 40% stake from the team’s (now former) three minority partners for $900 million. But Snyder, who had the right of first refusal, rejected the offer and bought out the partners for $875 million instead. Could they be interested in pursuing the Commanders again? Their investment group also pursued the Broncos and would like to buy an NFL team.
Byron Allen, comedian: The NFL has been open about the league’s need for diverse owners. And Allen, who is Black, fits that profile. He led a group that bid on the Broncos and after missing out on Denver, Allen told TMZ Sports he was “highly confident we’ll get the next one” for sale. “When you lose out to the richest family in the world, it’s not a bad day at the office,” Allen said, referring to Walmart heir Rob Walton’s purchase of the Broncos.
Josh Harris, Alpha Global Management: Harris already owns two other professional sports franchises as he is the controlling owner in the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. His investment group pursued the Broncos, even roping in Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson to join the bid. Harris, like Bezos, is routinely linked to potential sales. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he takes an interest in the Commanders.
Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports and Entertainment: Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, is reportedly a front-runner for MLB’s Washington Nationals. But if that deal falls apart — and the complications of the Nationals’ television rights make a deal messy — how about the Commanders? In 2019, Leonsis told The Washington Times that his focus on Monumental. “Dan, when we won the Stanley Cup, wrote me a very nice personal note and sent me a big bottle of Champagne,” Leonsis said then. “He’s always been very, very gracious and supportive of us, and I look forward to reciprocating when they win a Super Bowl.” That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen on Snyder’s watch.
Mark Walter and Todd Boehly, Los Angeles Dodgers: Walter and Boehly led a group that pursued the Broncos, but were outbid. But the Los Angeles Dodgers owners have been busy buying sports teams elsewhere — purchasing the English Premier League’s Chelsea earlier this year and a Los Angeles Lakers minority stake in 2021.
Robert F. Smith, founder of Vista Equity Partners: Goodell put “tremendous pressure” on Smith, the nation’s richest Black man, to bid for the Broncos, according to the New York Post. But Smith was outbid by Walton. Would he be interested in another team? The venture capitalist is from Denver.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at email@example.com.
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