Commanders to Pay $1.3M to Settle Virginia Season-Ticket Deposit Probe

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Washington Commanders to Pay $1.3M to Settle Virginia Season-Ticket Deposit Probe

The Washington Commanders reached a $1.3 million settlement with the Virginia attorney general as a result of a two-year investigation into how the franchise withheld deposits from season-ticket holders.

Washington Commanders to pay more than $600,000 in deposits, $700,000 in penalties and costs to the investigation

Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a statement that the agreement calls for the organization to pay more than $600,000 in deposits, in addition to another $700,000 in penalties and “costs to the investigation.”

Miyares’ office launched its probe into the Commanders on April 25, 2022, following a congressional investigation about potential financial improprieties levied by a former employee that included how the team handled returning the season-ticket deposits.

This incident occurred when Dan Snyder owned the franchise. The Maryland native sold the team last July to a group led by Josh Harris, Mitchell Rales, and Magic Johnson.

According to ESPN’s report, the Washington Commanders said they handed over business, financial, and accounting documents to the attorney general and updated that office with findings of their own internal investigation.

Miyares said they worked with Harris’ group, clarifying where the previous ownership had “fallen short” in refunding the deposits. Miyares added that the new ownership group was straightforward.

“This was a problem the current ownership did not create, they inherited it, but I appreciate the fact that they were willing to talk and get it resolved rather than going through what would’ve been probably several years of litigation,” Miyares said.

“It was clear from our perspective that so many of the season-ticket holders were just treated as a commodity. Nothing surprises us anymore, but this was a pretty blatant act for sure.”

Washington unlawfully retained significant sums of security deposits

The investigation concluded that Washington “unlawfully retained significant sums of security deposits, often imposing additional conditions on consumers seeking refunds,” according to a release.

In 2014, the team sent about 650 form letters to former season-ticket holders who had unrefunded security deposits, the investigation discovered.

However, the Commanders were unsuccessful to “remit a single unclaimed security deposit to a state unclaimed property office, including to the Virginia Department of the Treasury, until at least 2023.”

Washington is now required to refund all remaining security deposits on dormant accounts or remit them to state unclaimed property departments.

Commanders must pay Virginia $600,000, another $100,000 to the attorney general’s office

Additionally, the NFL team must refund security deposits on file within 30 days of when the contract expires. The Commanders must also pay the Commonwealth $600,000 in civil penalties and another $100,000 to the attorney general’s office for attorney fees and costs associated with the investigation.

“We are glad this is resolved,” Miyares said. “When corporate actors are misbehaving, when you have bad corporate actors, we’re going to protect consumers. We’re going to hold them accountable. And that’s exactly what we did here.”

Furthermore, the investigation found the Commanders had entered into long-term contracts with season ticket holders since at least 1997. Snyder purchased the team from the Jack Kent Cooke estate in 1999.

In April 2023, the Commanders settled with the D.C. attorney general’s office for the same predicament. Washington agreed to pay $200,000 to ticket holders and $425,000 to the district.

Washington’s security deposit practices were first revealed publicly through an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability (then called the House Committee on Oversight and Reform).