Dan and Tanya Snyder agreed on Friday to sell the Washington Commanders to an investment group led by Josh Harris, leaving the N.F.L. to sign off on the proposed $6 billion sale.
The two sides had reached a tentative agreement a month ago, but the nonexclusive deal gave Snyder the ability to continue to look for other bidders, or even walk away.
On Friday, Harris and his group said they entered into a purchase and sale agreement, which would set a record price for a sports franchise if it is approved by the N.F.L.’s finance committee and at least three-quarters of the league’s 31 other team owners.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, an area native, and his impressive group of partners,” Tanya and Dan Snyder said in a joint statement. “We look forward to the prompt completion of this transaction and to rooting for Josh and the team in the coming years.”
In a statement on behalf of his ownership group, which includes Magic Johnson, Harris said, “We look forward to the formal approval of our ownership by the N.F.L. in the months ahead and to having the honor to serve as responsible and accountable stewards of the Commanders franchise moving forward.”
The announcement came two days after the league’s finance committee met in New York to evaluate the contours of the deal. The full contingent of N.F.L. owners could be briefed on the proposed agreement when they meet in Minneapolis on May 22 and 23, and vote on the deal in the coming months.
“League staff and the finance committee will review the details of the proposed Washington transaction,” Brian McCarthy, a league spokesman, said in a statement.
But approval is not a given.
Members of the finance committee who reviewed the proposed deal on Wednesday were concerned that the debt in the Harris bid exceeded the league’s debt limits, according to two people who attended the meeting.
According to N.F.L. rules, purchases of teams can include no more than $1.1 billion in debt. The Harris group has agreed to hisse a record-setting $6 billion, about $1.4 billion more than the previous record of $4.65 billion for the Denver Broncos paid last year by the Walton-Penner families, who amassed their fortunes largely through their stakes in Walmart.
The Harris group would need a waiver of the league’s financing rules if the debt included in their deal exceeds the limit. They could also change the structure of the arrangement.
In recent weeks, the Snyders had been looking for protection from the outstanding league investigation being led by Mary Jo White, whom the N.F.L. hired to look into allegations of financial malfeasance and sexual harassment at the club. The N.F.L. has not announced a timeline for releasing that report.
But Harris has not agreed to protect the Snyders from any league penalties that could arise as a result of the N.F.L.’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement who was not authorized to speak publicly about its details. The league has not agreed to indemnify Snyder either, according to another person with knowledge of the agreement.
Prosecutors in the District of Columbia and Virginia also have open inquiries into the team.
If the sale is approved, Harris’s group could soon look to upgrade FedEx Field, which opened in 1997 and has been plagued by pipe leaks and other structural failings, or build a new stadium in the Washington area. Either option would require billions of dollars in additional funding.
Harris, whose investment group already owns the Philadelphia 76ers of the N.B.A., the New Jersey Devils of the N.H.L. and part of Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, assembled an even larger group of investors to purchase the Commanders, which is worth far more than the other three clubs combined.
His group includes Johnson, the N.B.A. Hall of Famer and a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers; David Blitzer, head of Blackstone Tactical Opportunities; Mitchell Rales, a real estate investor from the Washington area; and Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Google.
The New York Times