WASHINGTON (AP) — Ted Lerner, the billionaire real estate developer whose family bought the Washington Nationals in 2006, has died, the team announced Monday. He was 97.
A Nationals spokesperson said Lerner died Sunday of complications from pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Lerner’s group purchased the Nationals from Major League Baseball in 2006 for $450 million after the team was moved to the U.S. capital from Montreal, where it played for more than three decades as the Expos. He was managing principal owner until ceding that role to son Mark in 2018.
Under the Lerners’ ownership, the Nationals went from one of baseball’s worst teams in their first several seasons in Washington to World Series champions in 2019. The Lerners also are credited with revitalizing the city’s Navy Yard area since Nationals Park opened in 2008.
“It is with great sadness that we we announce the passing of Founding Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner,” the team said in a statement. “The crowning achievement of his family business was bringing baseball back to the city he loved — and with it, bringing a championship home for the first time since 1924. He cherished the franchise and what it brought to his beloved hometown.”’
Last year, the Lerners began exploring the possibility of selling the team, which is worth $2 billion, according to Forbes, which estimates the family’s net worth is $6.6 billion thanks to the Nationals and Lerner Enterprises, one of the largest property-owning companies in the Washington area.