Dan Snyder Could Take the Fun Out Of ‘Functional Alcoholic’

05.05.10 7 years ago 59 Comments

Christ, what an asshole.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a prick. It’s something that football fans have known for quite some time, thanks in part to the countless articles detailing his alienation of his team’s fan base. But Snyder is nothing if not ambitious, so eventually he expanded his empire of assholery into the worlds of media and amusement. It hasn’t gone well.

I direct your attention to two articles that have been published this week, one by legendary Snyder critic Dave McKenna at Slate and one by Howard Kurtz of the Post. First let’s focus on McKenna, who takes an in-depth look at exactly how Snyder managed to cripple the beloved amusement park chain Six Flags.

Snyder was removed as chairman of the theme park chain’s board of directors late last week as part of a settlement in Delaware bankruptcy court. Six Flags went Chapter 11 last June after about four years under Snyder.

How do you bring a business like Six Flags to the brink of collapse in four years? Was he trading his best rollercoaster designers to other amusement parks for their old beaten-down rides?

The Redskins owner gained control of Six Flags by leading a stockholder coup.

In October 2005, he addressed a letter, along with former ESPN executive Mark Shapiro and Redskins co-owner Dwight Schar, to “Fellow Stockholder[s].” That letter, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, blasted the abilities of then-reigning board Chairman Kieran Burke and declared that folks would have “done better by hiding their money under a mattress” than investing in Six Flags under Burke.

Whereas under Snyder they effectively hid their money under a kerosene soaked mattress within inches of an open flame.

As Snyder was putting his plan in place, and adding big names like Jack Kemp and Harvey Weinstein to his board of directors, Six Flags stock sold for $11.93 a share. Snyder controlled 10,921,300 shares at the time, according to SEC filings, making his Six Flags holdings worth more than $130 million.

Why that’s enough money for four signing bonuses!

As of last week’s settlement, those shares are essentially worthless—SIXFQ was trading at 1.7 cents this morning, and it’s trending toward zero.

Goldman Sachs calls it a strong buy.

…Snyder inflated the parking rates at Six Flags lots all over the country.

And why shouldn’t he? It’s worked so well in the past, and American families have far too much disposable income these days.

The inflation was a boon to owners of retail and storage businesses near Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass., which began offering spots on their property for $10—the rate charged by Six Flags before Snyder jacked the cost of parking to as high as $30.

If Snyder owned those retail and storage businesses he would have charged $29. Stupid bumpkins, neglecting to squeeze out every last drop.

[CEO Mark] Shapiro testified at a public hearing that it was unsafe for pedestrians to walk to Six Flags from anywhere but its own lots. The local politicians banned the satellite lots after Shapiro’s appearance.

Of course the whole argument was total bunk (and familiar bunk at that), so the ruling was overturned unanimously.

There is so much more to this story, so please go read the whole thing. Otherwise you’ll miss the details of how Snyder basically used Six Flags as a conduit to funnel money into his other business concerns, like the similarly floundering Johnny Rockets franchise.

In the last decade Snyder has managed to take the fun out of a beloved professional football franchise, the nation’s largest chain of amusement parks, and faux-nostalgic burger joint modeled after a true American institution. Pretty impressive. But could he ever ruin a feel-good reunion between a marine and his cheerleading wife? Let’s go to the Post!

But because Lt. Denver Edick’s wife is a cheerleader for the Washington Redskins, the easy score turned into a turf battle in which ABC, the network that pitched the idea, wound up barred from FedEx Field, while the team handed the ball to the NBC station in town, which happens to be its broadcast partner.

Well yes, that certainly is a dick move by the franchise, but it doesn’t totally ruin an otherwise nice story. Yet.

A news executive involved in the discussions says a Redskins official told him that if Kristin Edick talked to anyone from WJLA, the ABC affiliate, she would be dismissed from her cheerleader’s job.

There it is!

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