How Washington Wanted To Become A Big-Time Business Town And Failed

With Daniel Snyder’s exit, Washington’s wish to become a big-time business town has failed.

There was something missing from yesterday’s big news about the Washington Commanders sale: Washington money.

In a region that recently cast itself as one of America’s major-league economic engines, the roster of potential buyers turned out to be distinctly minor-league — meaning the next owner of the team, that ultimate emblem of mogulhood, would have to be imported.

In the end, the winner of the reported $6 billion prize, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris, beat out tycoons based in Houston and Toronto, in addition to Jeff Bezos, who despite owning the Washington Post calls Seattle home. While one Washington-based billionaire is part of Harris’ group, the principal would be commuting from more economically muscular climes, just like all of the also-rans.

That’s a far cry from the days when superlawyer Edward Bennett Williams, insider’s insider, man-about-town and founder of the quintessential Washington law firm, hosted a who’s-who of the Beltway’s 1970s-era ruling class in the owner’s box of what was then known as the Washington Redskins.

For that matter, it’s also a far cry from the situation in 1999, when a self-made suburban Maryland thirty something named Daniel Snyder bought the team and was (briefly) heralded as as an emblem of the new entrepreneurial class that proved the capital had become more than just a measly government town.

In fact, Snyder’s looming exit represents a neat bookend to a quarter-century or so when Washington’s civic boosters allowed themselves to fantasize that their city had somehow transcended its federal origins and joined the ranks of America’s high-flying business hubs.

Kathleen Corradi, a former elementary school teacher and land use expert who specializes in urban sustainability, has been appointed by NYC Mayor as the city’s first Rat Czarina.

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