Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder has hired Bank of America to explore a sale of the NFL franchise.
Snyder and his wife Tanya will work with the bank to explore “potential transactions,” the team said Wednesday in a statement. That could include a majority sale or the sale of a minority stake.
The announcement comes as Snyder faces increased pressure to sell the team, which he purchased in 1999 for $800 million. Sportico values the Commanders at $4.78 billion, ranked eighth in the NFL. If sold in its entirely, the team would almost certainly fetch the highest price ever paid ever paid for a sports franchise, set this year when Rob Walton bought the Denver Broncos for $4.6 billion.
It’s unclear if Snyder is looking for minority partners or to exit the team completely. Last year, Snyder bought out the 40.5% of the franchise he didn’t already own from a trio of LPs: Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman. Snyder took on debt to facilitate that deal, and selling minority stakes could be a way of easing that burden. (Bank of America also holds much of his debt, according to someone familiar with the situation.)
The news was first reported by Forbes.
Snyder’s tenure with the Commanders has been marred by multiple controversies, including long-running allegations of rampant workplace harassment, a Congressional investigation into financial impropriety and public pressure to change the franchise’s prior name. The team’s future has been a constant topic of discussion inside ownership circles, while also rising publicly during commissioner Roger Goodell’s media appearances.
Last month, Colts owner Jim Irsay became the first NFL owner to publicly endorse Snyder selling the franchise. Irsay told reporters there is “merit to removing him as owner.” That, however, is a difficult process and one that the NFL would obviously like to avoid. Snyder agreeing to sell would be a much easier outcome. The Commanders haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. The team is also looking for a new stadium, a lucrative opportunity for a new owner.
(This story has been updated throughout with details on the Washington franchise.)