Group That Includes Magic Johnson Possibly Set to Buy NFL Team

According to published reports, an investment group that includes Lakers legend Magic Johnson has reached “an agreement in principle” to buy the Washington Commanders. The transaction, if finalized, will add an NFL franchise to Johnson’s already substantial “sport-folio.”

The sports business journal Sportico reported April 13 that Dan Snyder, the embattled current owner of the Commanders, has agreed to sell the team for a record $6 billion to a group led by Wall Street heavyweight Josh Harris, defense billionaire Mitchell Rales and Johnson. According to Sportico, Harris and Snyder are hoping to execute a contract “in the coming days.” If all the pieces come together, the Commanders’ $6 billion price tag would mark the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise–topping the $4.65 billion sale price for the NFL’s Denver Broncos last year. Johnson was also part of a Harris-led group that tried but failed to purchase the Broncos.

Harris, 58, also owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils. However, ESPN reported April 13 that a rival bidder for the Commanders could still be in the picture to acquire the team. The network quoted “a source” that said Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos and his family are in a “head-to-head race” with the Harris-Rales-Johnson group, and that “It’s anyone’s game.” Still, Harris is said to be optimistic his group will prevail, ESPN reported.

Any sale would have to be approved by a vote of the NFL’s other 31 owners. The vote likely would not take place until the next league meetings, on May 22-24 in Minneapolis, according to ESPN. Reportedly, the sale would also include Commanders’ home stadium, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and their practice facilities in suburban Virginia. Johnson is already a part owner of the L.A. Dodgers, the L.A. Sparks of the WNBA and the Los Angeles Football Club of Major League Soccer. There was no word on how much Johnson might be contributing to the Commanders deal. He reportedly contributed $50 million when the Guggenheim Group purchased the Dodgers for $2 billion in 2012.

Johnson’s vast business interests, headquartered in Beverly Hills, also include theaters, Starbucks franchises, EquiTrust, a financial services company, and SodexoMAGIC, a food service and facilities management company.

City News Service

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