Josh Harris speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Camden, N.J., Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
Matt Rourke | AP
The Washington Commanders are nearing a sale to an ownership group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils Owner Josh Harris at around $6 billion, people familiar with the deal told CNBC.
The deal to purchase the embattled team still has to be submitted and approved by the NFL’s finance committee, and at least three-quarters of other team owners would need to approve it.
But those terms, first reported by Sportico, would represent the highest sale price paid for a North American sports team. The Walton family purchased the Denver Broncos in June for a then-record price of $4.65 billion.
Harris’ ownership group includes Washington D.C.-based billionaire Mitchell Rales and NBA legend Magic Johnson. Harris is a co-founder of Apollo Global Management. He’s also the founder and managing general partner of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and holds stakes in the Crystal Palace Football Club in the Premier League and in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was exploring the sale process, but decided not to make an offer, according to ESPN.
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told CNBC’s “Fast Money” Wednesday that he dropped out of the process after making an offer of $5.6 billion.
“If they can get somebody to pay them more than that, good luck to them. That’s all I can say. I own a franchise, so I love them selling for a lot. But at some point, I don’t think $6 billion is the right number,” Fertitta said.
Irwin Kishner, who represents a number of pro sports teams in the deal-making space, said he’s not surprised by the $6 billion sale price.
“You had some very, very wealthy competition to win the bid. This bid came out to be the strongest,” said Kishner, co-chair of the Sports Law Group with New York law firm Herrick, Feinstein.
Representatives for the Commanders, the NFL and Harris declined to comment.
For Commanders fans and former employees, progress in the sale process is welcome news.
“Today marks the end of a long, difficult chapter for all employees and fans of the Washington football organization,” said Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys who represent over 40 former Commanders employees, who alleged widespread misconduct from inside the Commanders front office. “We are proud of our many clients who made this moment possible – the brave women and men who came forward repeatedly and at great personal risk to expose the decades of sexual harassment and financial wrongdoing at the team. Their determination and perseverance forced this sale to happen.”
Commanders owner Dan Snyder announced in November of 2022, that he was putting the Commanders up for sale.
In July 2021, he was fined a record $10 million and removed from day-to-day operations after an investigation found the organization’s workplace “highly unprofessional.”
Snyder and his wife, Tanya, purchased the team in 1999 for $800 million.
Kishner said a sale marks the end of a “very long saga.”
“But alas, I think it’s best for the league. I think it’s best for the team, and I think it’s best for everyone to do well,” he said.
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