SBD/January 12, 2011/Franchises

DC Sports Owners Gather For Panel Discussion About Their Teams

Snyder talked about maturing as Redskins owner; Leonsis addressed media pressure

The owners of DC's professional sports franchises gathered for a two-hour panel discussion yesterday, during which they "answered a wide array of questions about how they run their franchises and explained some of the challenges they face in trying to build championship-caliber teams," according to Jason Reid of the WASHINGTON POST. The "Business of Sports" breakfast, sponsored by the Post's Capital Business publication and the Greater Washington Board of Trade, featured Redskins Owner Dan Snyder; Wizards, Capitals and WNBA Mystics Owner Ted Leonsis; MLS DC United Owner Will Chang; and Nationals investors Robert Tanenbaum and Marla Lerner Tanenbaum (WASHINGTON POST, 1/12).

  • Snyder, on growing as an owner: "Maybe we need to do a better job of explaining what we are and are not involved in. But your responsibility as an owner is number 1, field the best team you can field. ... Hire the right people, and give your people the best support you can, and give them the best financial backing, and that's what we're trying to do, I think all of us up here. ... I've matured. I'm 46 years old now. When I bought the team I was 34. ... I think that you come in -- and I'm sure all of us originally -- you come in as a pure fan. And you don't appreciate the nuances of coaching or scouting or all of what's involved in the particular sport" (, 1/11).
  • Leonsis, on cheering for other DC teams: "This city needs the Redskins to win, and we also hope Ted this year wins it for us. ... It's not as much advice as we're rooting for each other as Washingtonians. I think it's more for the city, for the town. You end up holding the psyche of the community in your hands."
  • Lerner Tanenbaum, on what she would copy: "Playoffs. I think everybody is impressed by how the Capitals went from nothing to something big" (, 1/11).
  • Leonsis, on the challenge of owning a DC team: "You. You, The Post."
  • Snyder: "I agree with him. ... I think when you win, you're liked. No, but I think there is a difference between the media and fans, and a lot of members of the media don't realize that."
  • Leonsis: "I used to live in mortal fear about what you would write. Now, I don't care. I think it's something that you need to internalize: that we're our own media company" (, 1/11).
  • Leonsis, on HBO's "24/7" show: "We're in a league. And the thing about the league is sometimes you have to think of a collective. And hockey is desperate to build its audience and reach a bigger audience. And HBO came calling. ... Now we've probably set an expectation: if anybody else plays in the Winter Classic, they'll need to do it. I don't think I'd do it in the playoffs, though. I just don't think the pressure of always knowing that everything you're doing is being filmed, it's a tough way to live" (, 1/11).
  • Snyder, on FedExField: "We're halfway through our life cycle of our stadium. Ultimately I don't know where we'll end up, but I'm very open to everything. ... I think that ultimately, obviously, we'll have a new stadium someday" (, 1/11).

TAKING A HANDS-ON APPROACH: Citing a "growing sense of urgency to find a new home" for DC United, Chang after yesterday's panel indicated that he "will become more involved in the search for a facility." He said, "It has gone from a relatively minor endeavor to a very high-priority endeavor on my part. It became important for me to get personally involved." Baltimore and the Maryland Stadium Authority have "made overtures about building a stadium for United" near Camden Yards. Chang said, "It is intriguing, no question about it. They have been actively pursuing us. Having said that, it's my sincere desire to stay here and I am looking very hard to find a home for DC United in the District" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/12).

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