NEW YORK—Josh Harris met Wednesday with members of the NFL’s finance committee about his $6.05 billion deal to purchase the Washington Commanders from Daniel Snyder, potentially moving the sale one step closer to being approved by the league’s team owners.
Harris was accompanied by Mitchell Rales, a top investor in the prospective ownership group. They arrived separately for the meeting. Each declined to comment as they entered.
The meeting took place at the NFL’s offices in Manhattan and came after Harris, a private equity investor who owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, had assured the eight-owner finance committee that he would make the requested adjustments to his deal, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.
Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, the chairman of the finance committee, declined to comment as he arrived for the meeting around 2 p.m. Eastern time. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who are members of the committee, also were seen arriving for the meeting.
The deal could be put to a vote of the owners in July or August, according to two of the people with knowledge of the deliberations. It must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 owners, who generally follow the finance committee’s recommendation. So the endorsement of the committee would virtually ensure that Harris will become the Commanders’ next owner.
He reached a signed, exclusive agreement with Snyder on May 12 after a nonexclusive version of the deal had been submitted to the NFL for an informal review. It is not known how long Harris’s exclusivity with Snyder lasts, but some people connected to the process have estimated it could be either 60 or 90 days. The expiration of Harris’s exclusivity apparently could drive the timeline by which the NFL will schedule an approval vote of the owners. Harris’s group would owe Snyder a breakup fee if the deal is not ratified, a person familiar with the sale process has said.
Harris’s investment firm, 26North Partners, is based a few blocks from the league’s Park Avenue headquarters.
The owners are not scheduled to meet again until October, but the NFL could call a special session before then to take the ratification vote on the Commanders sale; the vote could be taken remotely, although the league usually prefers an in-person meeting for a franchise sale approval.
The owners were updated on the sale but did not vote when they met last month in the Minneapolis area. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said then that he expected the deal to reach a point at which the owners would approve it.
The finance committee is expected to have multiple remote meetings in the coming weeks to attempt to apply the finishing touches to the deal.
The committee raised concerns about the deal when it met last month in New York, according to people with direct knowledge of the deliberations. The committee believed then that the deal was well above the NFL’s $1.1 billion debt limit for franchise acquisitions, according to one of those people.
But Harris more recently has pledged to structure the deal in a manner acceptable to the committee, the people familiar with the deliberations said.
Harris’s group includes Rales, the co-founder of the Danaher Corporation; Mark Ein, a venture capitalist and Washington-area native who is chair of D.C.’s Citi Open tennis tournament; and NBA great Earvin “Magic” Johnson as investors.
The owners are eager to approve Harris’s deal if possible and remove Snyder from the NFL’s ownership ranks, according to people with knowledge of the league’s inner workings and the owners’ views. Some of those people also have described Snyder as increasingly eager to finish the process, bolstering hopes that the NFL and the owners can resolve issues with Snyder related to legal indemnification and the league’s investigation of Snyder and the Commanders being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White.