When a Dan Snyder-led group bought the Washington Redskins in 1999, it paid $800 million, the highest price tag ever for a sports franchise at the time.
When Snyder cashed out by selling the Commanders to Josh Harris this year for $6.05 billion, it was once again the most expensive team sale in history. That number is eye-popping considering no team had sold for even half that amount prior to 2019.
According to Sportico’s research, this was the 21st time in the past six decades that a new record was set for the most expensive sports franchise sale to date. The first such historic sale was CBS’ majority purchase of the New York Yankees in 1964 for $13.2 million, or roughly $130 million in 2023 dollars. For the next three decades, franchise values increased slowly, but didn’t yet skyrocket. When Peter Angelos formed a group to buy the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, the deal valued the team at a record-setting $173 million, or approximately $363 million in 2023 dollars.
Later in the 1990s, valuations started to soar. Following the Orioles’ sale, the record was broken five more times during the following six years, with rapidly increasing prices. Adjusting for inflation, the value of the most expensive sports team sale roughly quadrupled between 1993 and Snyder’s purchase in 1999, after not even tripling between 1964 and 1993.
Snyder’s claim to having sold and bought a team for a record-setting amount may be matched very quickly, with the Glazers considering a sale of Manchester United. Malcolm Glazer’s purchase of the club for $1.4 billion in 2005 was the first to reach 10 figures, and in May 2023 Sportico valued Man United at $5.95 billion, just shy of the Commanders sale price. The record holders in this category don’t tend to last long, and there could be a new one soon.