Steve Baldacci, one of Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder's top lieutenants in his Bethesda-based marketing firm, has emerged as a leading candidate to become team president, sources familiar with the situation said.
If arrangements can be completed, Baldacci could be named the team's chief executive within the next few weeks, sources said.
Snyder associates described Baldacci as one of Snyder's closest advisers, and said he has been working closely with Snyder on matters relating to the team. They called Baldacci a marketing wizard and a no-nonsense businessman.
Snyder declined to comment on the matter through a spokesman yesterday. Baldacci, a senior vice president at Snyder Communications Inc., was not available to comment. Snyder associates said that a final decision on the club presidency has not been made.
"No one has been selected," said Karl Swanson, a spokesman for Snyder.
Baldacci would concentrate on the business side of the Redskins' operation while leaving most of the football-related decisions to Coach Norv Turner and Vinny Cerrato, the director of player personnel hired by Snyder to replace ousted general manager Charley Casserly. Baldacci has made several trips to Redskin Park recently, and has been in regular contact with team officials.
Snyder had said he hoped to appoint a club president before last night's final preseason game. But that timetable has been pushed back, and now it appears that it will take at least another week or two to complete the process.
It was unclear yesterday whether any other candidates are under serious consideration. Sources said that Snyder and Baldacci have been discussing the terms under which Baldacci would accept the job. One potential holdup is the financial impact that leaving Snyder Communications would have on Baldacci, sources said, mentioning the possibility of Baldacci continuing to assist on Redskins matters without accepting an official position with the team.
Naming a team president will nearly complete Snyder's rapid overhaul of the Redskins' operations. There has been a whirlwind of change since the Snyder group officially closed on its $800 million purchase of the franchise from the Jack Kent Cooke estate in July.
Redskin Park, the team's Northern Virginia practice facility, has been repainted. A new artificial turf practice field has been installed. The team's three Super Bowl trophies now sit in a prominent display case in the lobby. There is a new "Washington Redskins" sign out front, and oversized magazine covers from the team's glory days line the walls outside the locker room.
The team's 80,116-seat stadium in Landover has received a $10 million face-lift. The name has been changed from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to Redskins Stadium, a precursor to the stadium's naming rights being sold to a company for a fee that likely will top $5 million a year. The new ownership group has fired about 25 employees. Snyder reached a financial settlement with Casserly, who agreed to serve the remaining two seasons on his contract as a consultant to Snyder. But his agreement with Snyder does not prevent him from working elsewhere.
Snyder has said that he expects the team to be in the playoffs this season and has indicated he will fire Turner, even during the season, if the Redskins' play is subpar. Snyder has left the general manager job vacant, and could pursue a big-name football person to serve as both coach and GM if he dismisses Turner.