When Dan Snyder was a child, he would spend Sundays with his dad and the Washington Football Team. At just 33 years old, he would use his ingenuity, talent, and perseverance to purchase the team after a turbulent bidding process.
The previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke, had an unusual will drafted before he passed away in 1997, one that did not leave the team to his son John Kent Cooke. It left the door open for Snyder, who immediately spotted an opportunity to own the dream.
The Initial Offer
There was a lot of discussion around who would buy the team and for how much between April 1997 and May 1999. It was clear that John Kent Cooke wanted to purchase the Washington Football Team, but he was unable to get enough funding to secure the deal.
Snyder knew that he’d need supporters if he was going to have enough money to successfully bid on the franchise, which is why he originally approached real estate investor Howard Milstein. No stranger to sports, Milstein and his brother already had a 45% share in the NHL Islanders.
The pair originally put in a cash offer of around $700 million, a bid that was initially rejected by the trustees of Cooke’s estate. After going back to the drawing board and increasing the offer by approximately $100 million though, Dan Snyder and Milstein managed to secure trustee support. But the story didn’t end there.
The Challenges Ahead
In order to purchase an NFL team, the buyer needs at least 75% approval from the other NFL owners. This was not going to be easy because the NFL was hesitant to approve an offer from Milstein. When it became clear that there was too much opposition from the owners, Snyder and Milstein officially withdrew their bid.
This setback didn’t deter Snyder though, who managed to raise the rest of the money with the help of trusted family members and investors. Once Snyder was able to do this and resubmit his bid, he was met with unanimous support from the other owners.
Why would so many people be willing to stake their hard-earned money on a man like Dan Snyder? The answer lies in his proven worth. As a teenager, he partnered with his dad to entice hockey fans to travel from DC to Philadelphia by bus for an away game. By his early 30s, he would become the youngest person to lead a company listed on the NYSE.
Daniel Snyder’s most notable financial success was forming Snyder Communications Inc. with the help of his sister. In 1995, the annual revenue for the company was $43 million. By 1997, it was $333 million. Snyder had his passions cemented at a young age, something that he learned how to leverage as the owner of the Washington Football Team.
How He Changed the Game
Snyder knew that all eyes would be on him after he took over, which is why he made it a point to personally listen to the words of Washington Football Team’ fans. Along with support, they voiced a number of suggestions to him, something that he would take to heart.
The public had been following the sale of the team and had especially seen the toll it took on its players. Before the official purchase, free-agent quarterback Trent Green would pass on an offer from the Washington Football Team to sign with the Rams, largely because of the lack of clear direction during the bidding wars.
Daniel Snyder knew that overcoming the commotion wouldn’t be easy, but he set his sights on improving the experience of the fans as a way to help the players, stakeholders, and even the rest of the NFL. He concentrated on how to relieve the traffic congestion in the parking lots. He added club seats and suites, expanding the capacity of the stadium. He added two escalators to the upper sections.
His attention to detail added up to a nearly $100 million increase in profits for the franchise in certain years. The Washington Football Team have managed to capture the imaginations of countless fans all across the nation. Over the past two decades, other NFL owners have implemented many of the same changes that Snyder has in hopes of achieving the same success.
A Firm Foundation
Daniel Snyder has managed to fight his way through every obstacle without devaluing his most important relationships. Even if a business deal falls through, he ensures that he stays on good terms with the people in his life. From the very beginning, Snyder said that his main focus was the love of the game, not the money that can be made there. If you know the real story though, it’s easy to see that it’s not an either/or situation.
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