Twenty years into his reign as owner of the Washington Football Team, Dan Snyder may be the franchise’s most infamous owner. While there might be worse teams in pro sports, Snyder’s ability to alienate players and create a toxic environment is well-documented. However, he is not the only owner of the team. While he is the leading shareholder, the Washington Football Team’s ownership structure goes far deeper.
How did Dan Snyder acquire the Washington Football Team?
Snyder was a 35-year-old college dropout with a multi-million dollar business under his belt when he started scoping the NFL for ownership opportunities in 1999. When the then Redskins hit the market, he jumped at the thought of owning such a lucrative asset. At the time, Snyder wanted to use the same know-how to build Snyder Communications and bring the team back to Super Bowl glory.
Snyder led an investment team that purchased the team for $800 million. He immediately showed that he was not the typical NFL owner. Although not quite as hands-on, Snyder had a Jerry Jones way of letting everyone know the team was his product. His finger would be on the pulse of every operation.
Initially, fans and media alike were intrigued by the young Snyder. He brought in big-name players and manipulated contracts to ensure that he stayed under the cap. As the team’s value rose, he kept a revolving door of secondary owners, too. However, Snyder’s penchant for toxic work environments, combined with several questionable decisions, has left the team in purgatory.
Snyder didn’t have the $800 million required to purchase the Redskins team. He took on a lot of debt to make his ownership dreams come true. When that investment failed to reap financial rewards, he began to sell off shares of the team to pay down the debt. However, when a bombshell Washington Post report exposed the extent of the organization’s long-known toxicity, other owners tried to cut ties with the team.
Outside of Snyder, there are three other owners in the Washington Football Team’s ownership group. FedEx mogul Frederick Smith, Black Diamond CEO Robert Rothman, and NVR Chairman Dwight Schar make up over 40% of the team’s ownership. Schar, who is worth over a billion dollars according to Forbes, bought a 15% share for $200 million, as did Rothman, whose net worth is somewhat a mystery.
Smith, who is worth over $5 billion according to Forbes, owns a five% share worth around $70 million. All three owners made their desire to sell their shares public after the report. However, this might not be as easy as they want it to be.
Can they sell?
Given the extent of the scandal surrounding the Washington Football team, those who want to put hundreds of millions of dollars into a project like this are at the mercy of a man who has become a pariah. However, someone who thought that they might be able to coax Snyder out of his majority shares might leap.
As toxic as the Washington Football Team is, there are few opportunities to buy a professional sports team. For example, Steve Ballmer paid around $2 billion for the Clippers at the height of a scandal that put the Redskins to shame. Now, they are contenders worth far more. The business side of sports is a fascinating place, and someone is bound to try to take on these shares. Whether it’s a good investment, however, might lie at the feet of Snyder.