BOWIE, Md. (DC News Now) — Sports fans in the Washington, D.C. area have suffered through more than two decades of poor on field performance and off the field controversies by the Washington Commanders. That all appears to be coming to an end as Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has agreed to sell the team to an ownership group led by Josh Harris.
“This franchise has won three super bowl, five NFL championships,” Commanders fan and Bowie resident Evan Johnson said. “But the fact that this man ain’t gonna be here no more is a more celebrated occasion than any of those.”
The Orioles Double-A affiliate Bowie Baysox celebrated the Commanders change of ownership Thursday evening before and during their game.
“We wanted this night to celebrate the future and what a fun way, to give out free tickets to people named Josh and that have the first or last name Harris,” Baysox director of marketing Adam Pohl told DC News Now.
Anyone with “Josh” or “Harris” in their name was given free tickets to the game. The team was also giving free tickets to anyone wearing a Magic Johnson jersey, as he is listed as a four percent minority owner in the new group.
“They gave me my free ticket,” Upper Marlboro, Maryland resident Lori Butler-Harris said. “Everyone has been wonderful and friendly and pleasant. I’m just having a good time just taking in the sights.”
Butler-Harris is originally from Charles County, Maryland and said she is excited for the new ownership.
“I’m a native Washingtonian, I was born actually in DC General Hospital, born in the nation’s capital. I’m excited for this change,” Butler-Harris said. “We need a Super Bowl. I think we can do it. I think this new leadership is like a breath of fresh air.”
Silver Spring, Maryland resident Josh Schmidt made the trip to Bowie for the game. He said he hasn’t rooted for the Commanders in recent years due to the franchise’s dysfunction.
“I think anything gives me more hope than Dan Snyder honestly. I mean just growing up in this area and having 28 years now of awfulness and just pitiful things,” Schmidt said. “Every time I got my hopes up as I kid they were always dashed.”
While some fans were providing free admission, anyone wearing Commanders gear was given discounted tickets.
“It had me thinking about legally changing my name to Josh Harris for tonight only so I could get in free,” Johnson, who also sometimes serves as a stadium announcer for the Baysox, said.
In a high scoring affair, Bowie fell to the Altoona Curve, 13-11, but there was no shortage of excitement throughout the stadium.
“By no means is tonight’s game in Bowie going to match anything like the excitement at FedEx Field,” Pohl said. “But this is maybe a first step for a few Commanders fans that live in our area to get together and kind of enjoy what is a new beginning.”
For the Josh-es and Harris-es in the stadium, it was a VIP experience to remember.
“It’s a beautiful night here in Bowie and I’m just glad to be out here with my fellow Josh-es and Harris-es,” Schmidt said.