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#pounditTuesday, January 31, 2023

Could sale of Washington Nationals fall through?

Ted Leonsis with the media

Dec 16, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis speaks at a press conference announcing exhibition games for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey prior to a game between the Capitals and the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals have been negotiating a potential sale of their franchise to billionaire Ted Leonsis, but there appears to be at least one significant obstacle standing in the way of a deal.

It was revealed earlier this year that the Lerner family is looking to sell the Nats. The team is expected to fetch at least $2 billion, with the family hoping to receive $3 billion. Leonsis, whose Monumental Sports owns the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, is the most likely buyer. Television rights may be holding up the deal, however.

In a Q&A on Thursday, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reported that TV rights have become a “real problem” in negotiations between Leonsis and the Lerner family. The Baltimore Orioles currently own the Nationals’ TV rights. They were granted that when MLB decided to move the Montreal Expos to D.C. since the Orioles were in that market first.

Leonsis recently purchased NBC Sports Washington, which airs Capitals and Wizards games. In an ideal world, he would be able to add all of the Nationals’ games to the network’s schedule as well. Currently, MASN is the regional sports channel that airs both Nats and Orioles games. The Orioles have a larger ownership share of the channel, and the Nats have sued them, alleging they are owed money by the O’s.

It is certainly possible that purchasing Washington’s TV rights from the Orioles will become part of the deal. For now, it sounds like there is still a lot to sort through.

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