Commanders sued for second time over allegedly withholding ticket money


It’s the second civil suit brought against Washington in eight days, following a complaint in DC Superior Court that the Commanders, owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league colluded to deceive fans about an investigation into the team’s workplace culture

Last Updated: 18/11/22 10:48am

Dan Snyder has been owner of the Washington NFL franchise since 1999 Dan Snyder has been owner of the Washington NFL franchise since 1999

Dan Snyder has been owner of the Washington NFL franchise since 1999

The District of Columbia’s attorney general filed a second lawsuit against the Washington Commanders on Thursday, alleging the team has cheated fans out of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in ticket money.

DC Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement Commanders executives engaged in “egregious mismanagement and illegal conduct.”

It’s the second civil suit brought against the Commanders by Racine’s office in eight days, after last week filing a complaint in DC Superior Court that the Commanders, owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league colluded to deceive fans about an investigation into the team’s workplace culture.

The latest lawsuit alleges the team has held onto potential refunds to season-ticket holders whose contracts with the team had expired. It claims the team still holds “nearly $200,000 in unreturned security deposits”.

The complaint alleges the team “deceptively” held onto deposits beyond the 30 days spelled out in ticket-holder contracts – sometimes for more than a decade – and said it capitalised on consumers forgetting about the money or imposed extra, burdensome conditions to get it back.

In a statement responding to the suit, a Commanders spokesperson said the team has not accepted security deposits for “over a decade” for suites and more than 20 years for premium tickets and began returning money to season-ticket holders in 2014.

“In 2014, as part of a comprehensive review, team management was instructed to send notices to over 1,400 customers with deposits and return all security deposits requested,” the spokesperson said.

“The team engaged an outside law firm and forensic auditors to conduct an extensive review of the team’s accounts, which found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue.”

Racine’s office is not the only one looking into alleged financial improprieties by the Commanders. The Virginia Attorney General’s office announced in the spring it had opened an investigation after the House Oversight Committee had sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission following allegations made by a former employee. The team strongly refuted the charges.

Also, on November 2, the US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia opened a criminal investigation into allegations that the Commanders engaged in financial improprieties.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine speaks during a news conference in Washington DC District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine speaks during a news conference in Washington DC

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine speaks during a news conference in Washington DC

Synder ‘exploring options’ to sell Commanders

Snyder has been the owner of the Washington franchise since 1999. Both he and the team are the subject of separate ongoing investigations into allegations of workplace misconduct, being conducted by the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform and by former attorney Mary Jo White, on behalf of the NFL.

The NFL conducted an initial independent investigation into the team in 2020, undertaken by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm, which found Washington’s workplace culture to be toxic. Snyder and the team were fined but no written report of Wilkinson’s findings was released.

In October, Jim Irsay, who is the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, said “there’s merit to remove” Snyder as owner of the Washington Commanders, and it should be given “serious consideration” by the NFL.

He said: “It pains me to see it – the founders of this league taught me, ‘You have to protect the game, you have to protect what we’re about.’ This isn’t what we’re about.

“I think it’s something that we have to review, we have to look at all the evidence, and we have to be thorough going forward, but I think it’s something that has to be given serious consideration.”

Snyder is reportedly considering selling the Commanders amid the ongoing investigations and lawsuits.

In a statement released by the franchise on November 11, a spokesperson said that the Snyders “remain committed to the team, all of its employees and its countless fans”.

Asked if the Snyders were considering selling part or all of the team, a spokesperson said: “We are exploring all options.”

The Commanders are worth an estimated $5.6bn, according to Forbes, who first reported that the Snyders were looking to sell. It places them sixth among the NFL’s 32 teams on estimated value.

The publication added that the Snyders have already had at least four calls from groups interested in buying the team.

Racine said last week that Snyder would still be a defendant in the initial lawsuit filed even if he sold the Commanders.

The Commanders are currently bottom of the NFC East standings in the NFL, with a 5-5 record through 10 weeks.

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