A group led by Josh Harris that includes Magic Johnson has agreed to buy the NFL Washington Commanders of former owner Dan Snyder and his family.
The parties announced the agreement in a joint statement on Friday, about a month after they reached an agreement in principle on sale for a record $6.05 billion.
The deal is the largest for a North American professional sports franchise, surpassing the $4.55 billion paid by Walmart heir Robert Walton for the Denver Broncos last year. Three-quarters owner approval and other customary closing conditions are still pending.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, a native of the area, and his impressive group of partners,” Snyder and his wife, Tanya, said in the statement. “We look forward to the speedy completion of this transaction and look forward to Josh and the team for years to come.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said league staff and its finance committee will review the details of the proposed transaction. The owners will meet later this month in Minnesota, but they are only expected to get an update on the situation then, with a formal vote expected in the coming months.
Snyder has owned the team since 1999, when he bought his favorite childhood team for $750 million and, despite mounting criticism, repeatedly said he would never sell it. That changed after multiple investigations by the league and Congress into Washington workplace misconduct and possible financial improprieties. The congressional investigation found that Snyder played a role in a toxic culture.
Harris’ group includes Washington-area billionaire Mitchell Rales, basketball Hall of Famer Johnson and David Blitzer, among others. Harris and Blitzer have owned the NBA Philadelphia 76ers since 2011 and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils since 2013.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a partner in the proposed new ownership group for the Washington Commanders,” Johnson tweeted. “Josh Harris has assembled an incredible group that shares a commitment to not only doing great things on the field, but also making a real impact in the (Washington area) community. I am very excited to get to work executing our vision for Commanders and our loyal fan base.”
Harris grew up in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland. He said he got to experience the excitement of the team winning three Super Bowls and establishing a culture of long-term success.
“We look forward to formal NFL approval of our property in the coming months and to be honored to serve as responsible and accountable stewards of the Commanders franchise in the future,” Harris said. “We look forward to running a world-class organization and making significant investments on and off the field to achieve excellence and make a lasting, positive impact in the community.”
The new owners’ first big task for the organization’s long-term future is a new stadium to replace FedEx Field, the team’s hastily completed home since 1997 in Landover, Maryland, which hasn’t aged well. Virginia dropped a stadium bill last year amid a series of off-field controversies revolving around the team, though there are prospects of building there, in Maryland or the District of Columbia on the site of the former home of the team, RFK Stadium.