Commanders purchase is latest record U.S. sports team sale

Friday, July 21, 2023

Another American sports franchise has been sold for yet another record price.

NFL owners have unanimously approved the sale of the Washington Commanders for a record-setting mark of $6.05 billion, from the Snyder family to a group led by Josh Harris, who -- along with David Blitzer as part of the Harris-Blitzer Sports Entertainment group -- also owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. The sale comes after a period of turmoil and multiple investigations of former owner Dan Snyder, who was also fined $60 million after attorney Mary Jo White released her findings following a lengthy investigation.

This deal adds to a recent surge in franchise sales prices. Here's a list of some of the most expensive franchise purchases in U.S. sports:

Denver Broncos

Sale price: $4.65 billion

The Walton-Penner group's $4.65 billion purchase of the Broncos in 2022 was the record sale price for an NFL team by more than $2 billion before the Commanders sale went through. Previously, former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson had sold his franchise to billionaire David Tepper for $2.275 billion in 2018.

Rob Walton's net worth is $57.9 billion, according to Forbes. His cousin and another Walmart heir, Ann Walton, is the wife of Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Kroenke also owns three Colorado sports teams: the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche and MLS'Colorado Rapids.

Phoenix Suns and Mercury

Sale price: $4 billion

The combined sale, which got league approval in February, set a new high-water mark for NBA franchises by more than $1.5 billion compared to what the Brooklyn Nets sold for in 2019. New owner Matt Ishbia was a walk-on for Michigan State and part of the Spartans' 2000 national championship team.

New York Mets

Sale price: $2.4 billion

The Mets had the honor of having the most expensive team sale in American sports until the Broncos came along. In 2020, hedge fund manager Steve Cohen purchased the Mets for $2.4 billion.The Los Angeles Dodgers previously held the mark for the most expensive MLB team sale when they sold for $2 billion in 2012.

Cohen is the founder of Point 72 Asset Management and now-defunct SAC Capital Advisors.

Brooklyn Nets

Sale price: $2.35 billion

In 2019, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai bought the Nets for $2.35 billion from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Tsai already had secured 49% ownership from Prokhorov in 2018 but accelerated the timeline for full ownership. Along with the then-record purchase for Brooklyn, Tsai also purchased Barclays Center, the Nets' home arena, in a separate transaction for roughly $1 billion.

Brooklyn isn't the only New York-based sports team Tsai owns. He bought the WNBA's New York Liberty franchise in January 2019.

Carolina Panthers

Sale price: $2.275 billion

The Panthers became available for sale following the 2017 NFL season after sexual harassment and workplace misconduct accusationswere made against Richardson. Tepper, whose net worth is $16.7 billion according to Forbes, bought the team for $2.275 billion. Before taking over Carolina, Tepper had a 5% ownership stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Appaloosa founder also spent $325 million in 2019 to bring MLS its 30th team, Charlotte FC.

Houston Rockets

Sale price: $2.2 billion

Former Rockets owner Leslie Alexander sold the team to Texas native and billionaire Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion in 2019. Fertitta grew up in Galveston, Texas, and was a regular attendee at Houston's games before buying the franchise.

According to his website, he is the sole owner of Fertitta Entertainment, which owns the restaurant giant Landry's, the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels and the Rockets. Fertitta also has his own TV show on CNBC called "Million Dollar Buyer."

Related Video