NFL’s Commanders Lobby For DC Control of RFK Stadium
The move would allow DC to offer the site to the team
When Dan Snyder announced that he was interested in selling the NFL’s Washington Commanders last fall, a who’s who of celebrities, sports stars and business giants expressed interest.
He hired Bank of America (BAC) to find interested buyers, and names bandied about included Jay Z, Jeff Bezos and Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos.
However, Snyder has reportedly reached an agreement to sell his team to a consortium led by Josh Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, for $6 billion, a record amount for any sports team, according to the New York Times. Harris already owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
The National Football League must approve the deal and is currently in a fact-finding mission, which could last a month, according to league sources.
A sale would likely set off a competition between Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. to host a new stadium for the Commanders, once the team’s lease is up at FedEx Field in Landover in 2027—a competition that is already somewhat underway, given that all three have shown plenty of interest.
The team already has a $100 million option-to-purchase agreement to acquire approximately 200 acres of land in Woodbridge, Va., as a potential stadium site. But the Commanders have also thrown their weight behind D.C.’s effort to control the 190-acre RFK Stadium campus—once the NFL team’s home—which is located on federal land, the Washington Post reported.
“We are committed to supporting the city’s efforts to obtain control of the RFK campus,” a spokesperson for the Commanders said in a statement to the Post. “We are communicating with stakeholders at the federal and local level, sharing our vision for a potential venue that will create jobs and economic growth for the region.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has previously called for the federal government to give the city control of the campus, which is currently leased to the District for sports use through 2038. “Nowhere else in the District will you see so much untapped land and untapped potential,” she said during a press conference in March on the campus, which has primarily been an asphalt wasteland since being vacated in 2018.
However, Bowser not committed to offering the site to the Commanders. In fact, the mayor’s latest budget included a plan to build a $60 million indoor athletic facility on the site.
Should the new ownership deal go through, the group would also include Mitchell Rales, founder of the Danaher Corporation; NBA legend Magic Johnson; Colombian billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo; property investor Mitchell Morgan; and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, according to Sportico.
Schmidt, who was added to the ownership team in May, left his position at the tech giant in 2011, but remains one of the company’s largest shareholders. Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists his net worth at $21.7 billion.
Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com.
Chava Gourarie contributed reporting.