New allegations might not cost Snyder his team, but what about his stadium? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It’s quite easy to look at the most recent allegations against Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders and draw a conclusion that a forced sale is imminent.
It’s much more likely, however, that won’t be the case.
While undoubtedly slimy, the practice of keeping security deposits from fans and corporate clients and making it difficult for consumers to get their own money back is hardly illegal. Go check and see how easy it is to get money back from a changed flight or even a bank draft fee made in error. There’s always fine print and rarely is that good news for the end consumer.
Then there’s the direct allegation by a former team employee before a Congressional committee about skimming profits from NFL home games and moving a small portion of that cash to other events that don't fall within the league's revenue-sharing purview.
That’s an audacious scheme, if true. And considering an NFL team makes hundreds of millions of dollars every year simply from the league’s TV deal, it would seem wildly reckless to allegedly skim a few dollars off ticket revenue that amounts to a few hundred thousand dollars over 10 or 15 years. At best that's naïve. And at worst it's downright stupid.
But even if true, is any of that enough to get Snyder tossed from the NFL? Is it a given that other teams don't run similar schemes to hide revenue or deploy unfair, but maybe not illegal, business practices that rip off their customers?
There remains a new ongoing investigation led by former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White regarding specific sexual harassment charges levied at Snyder himself by an ex-team employee during a Congressional roundtable in February. That could still prove impactful.
But Snyder largely dodged harsh consequences from the 10-month investigation last year by attorney Beth Wilkinson into two decades of pervasive sexual harassment in his organization. Compared to the White and Wilkinson investigations, these financial allegations seem trivial.
There’s also the major question of proof.
The House Oversight Committee made clear in its 20-page letter this week to the Federal Trade Commission that there should be an investigation into the credibility of the allegations. It’s entirely possible the FTC chooses not to investigate at all.
For many, that factoid got lost in the shuffle as this story grew.
None of these financial allegations are fact yet, even if the information is quite detailed, specific and appear to show a paper trail.
The Commanders have been unequivocal in their multiple denials of any financial misconduct and maintain there is absolutely no truth to any financial improprieties. But there is a large segment of Commanders fans who are so desperate for Snyder to go that every allegation comes with fingers crossed. Is this finally it?
Maybe those prayers will be answered. But it seems unlikely given the relatively light punishment after the harassment scandal -- an organizational fine of $10 million by the NFL and a vague order for Snyder to remove himself from day-to-day duties with the team for an undetermined amount of time that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has never explicitly detailed.
There’s another more glaring problem, however, that Snyder’s shadow seems to be influencing, and it might be off the radar for Commanders fans.
As the investigations continue, has anybody noticed that the public money for a new Commanders stadium continues to shrink?
Earlier this year reports stated that Virginia was ready to offer up to $1 billion in public money to lure Snyder’s Commanders to the Commonwealth.
Now that number is expected to finalize around $350 million, according to Richmond insiders. That’s a stark 65% reduction from just a few months ago and nowhere near enough to build one of the NFL's modern luxury stadiums.
SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles reportedly cost $5 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times. Dallas' iconic AT&T Stadium - dubbed Jerry World in honor of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - came in at $1.2 billion and it opened 13 years ago. Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium opened in 2021 and its price tag was around $2 billion.
What about bringing the new Commanders stadium back to D.C.?
That door seems closed, largely due to the federal government. Might that be a byproduct of a Congressional investigation that made headlines across the country? Can’t say for sure but it’s a heck of a coincidence.
That leaves the incumbent, Prince George’s County in Maryland. The Commanders already play there, and there’s state money for new development adjacent to the current stadium site in Landover stretching to the District border.
One caveat - of the $400 million allocation, it’s specifically written into the bill passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Larry Hogan that none of that money is for a new stadium. None of it.
"I couldn’t have been any more clear when I said we’re not building a stadium for that team. I said ‘Good luck’ if they wanted to go to Virginia.," Hogan said during a public appearance on Wednesday.
If the statement wasn't enough, consider the tone. Hogan wouldn't even say the team name. That's hardly a loving embrace from a prominent politician, and a few years back that tone was markedly different from politicians in Maryland and D.C.
And so what was once unthinkable is now entirely possible. Washington's lease at FedEx Field ends after the 2027 season. The Commanders are fast running out of time if they want to have a new home by 2028 - or they could be stuck in place at an outdated stadium for a while longer.
D.C. weather changes faster than the whim of politicians. What's out today can certainly be in tomorrow. A stadium deal can still come together quickly, particularly if local municipalities like Prince George's County in Maryland or Prince William County in Virginia are able to pony up hefty cash for a new stadium on their own.
Don't be stunned if that happens with either jurisdiction. There's precedent just this month. The Buffalo Bills recently announced their plans to build a new stadium and the deal included cash both from the state of New York and Erie County, where they play. A similar path is certainly being explored by the Commanders.
Even if that happens, though, that doesn't change the reality that's emerged since early February when Congress opened its own investigation into the Washington football team:
Dan Snyder might not lose his team, but it's gotten significantly harder to get his new stadium.