The Washington Nationals have been owned by the Lerner family since Ted Lerner bought the team in 2006. Months after The Washington Post reported the family hired investment bank Allen & Company to explore a sale, things are moving quickly.
Another step towards a potential bidding war occurred in May when the Nationals made their financial records available to interested buyers. Each of the interested groups and individuals received pre-approval from Major League Baseball, per Barry Svrluga, before obtaining records detailing the Nationals’ financial records, commitments and revenue.
It all comes at a time with significant movement in sports ownership. The Denver Broncos just sold for $4.65 billion and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be up for bid within the next year. Now, an MLB team could also hit the block.
According to the New York Post’s Jon Heyman, 28 different parties have expressed interest in bidding for the Nationals. While the team isn’t officially up for sale, the ongoing exploratory process makes it likely something happens.
We’ve estimated a potential price for the Nationals at approximately $2 billion, based off the team’s estimated net worth and rising MLB revenue. Unsurprisingly, per Heyman, Washington billionaire Ted Leonsis is among the parties interested in buying the Nationals.
Will Ted Leonsis buy the Washington Nationals?
Ted Leonsis is one of the most recognizable names in Washington, D.C. The 65-year-old founded Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL) and Washington Mystics (WNBA).
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Leonsis would seem like a natural favorite to buy the Nationals, given his investment in professional sports. He is also very familiar with the Lerner family, given they are part-owners of the Wizards and Capitals.
However, per Heyman, the first offer Leonsis submitted fell short of what other unidentified groups are bringing to the table. Given each of those parties received pre-approval from MLB, there is no reason to think they don’t have the liquidity to make a deal happen even if it means increasing the offer.
So, if Leonsis wants to take complete control of professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., he’ll need to bring a lot more to the negotiating table. While it likely won’t surpass the $2.4 billion Steve Cohen paid for the New York Mets in 2020, the final sale of the Washington Nationals might come close.