Snyder Faced With Another Loss
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Is it time to feel sorry for Dan Snyder?
Yesterday, Joe Gibbs, the head coach of Snyder's Redskins and a Washington sports icon, announced that he was leaving the team and his $5 million salary. The Redskins' season ended Saturday with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
On Monday, because of the writers' strike, NBC pulled the plug on its highly rated Golden Globe Awards program, which Snyder's private-equity firm, Red Zone Capital Partners, acquired last summer as part of his $175 million purchase of Dick Clark Productions.
And then there's Six Flags. Shares in the amusement park chain, of which Snyder is chairman, began the year near their all-time low, though they got a slight boost yesterday on reports that fourth-quarter attendance and revenue were up.
But feeling sorry? A little perspective might be useful. Snyder is believed to be one of the wealthiest people in the region. The Redskins are one of the biggest cash cows in sports, worth more than $1.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine. And there seems to be no limit for fans' love for the team and their willingness to pay top dollar to see the Redskins play.
Snyder isn't talking about his circumstances, declining through a spokesman to comment for this article. But those who know him and those who watch him have their own points of view, and they differ.
A Snyder associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity said surface turmoil in Snyder's empire might be deceiving.
"Dig deeper," the associate said, "and it's just not the case."
For example, this person said, Snyder's private-equity firm gets a rights fee for the Golden Globe Awards whether it is televised or not.
Dwight C. Schar, chairman of Reston-based home builder NVR and a partner in the team and in Red Zone, said yesterday that Six Flags is on track to be successful and that the investment in Dick Clark Productions is paying off.
"We feel very fortunate about the Redskins and where we are," Schar said. "The organization is in great shape to move forward. And we feel good where Six Flags is headed. It's on track. And we are very happy with Dick Clark because our earnings are going to be up 50 percent."
Some observers argue that Snyder is a victim of circumstances. Six Flags is still a work in progress. Bad weather and a bad accident -- a girl was seriously injured in an accident at a park in Kentucky last year -- hurt performance in 2007. And the Golden Globes are a victim of the writers' strike, with celebrities declining to cross picket lines.