Haslam Hits the Practice Field in Berea
BEREA, Ohio — The new owner of the Cleveland Browns, Jimmy Haslam III, was on the practice fields in Berea on Friday morning take a first hand look at the team and facility he purchased on Thursday for more than $1 billion.
Haslam III and his father, James Haslam II, walked alongside Browns President Mike Holmgren onto the practice field around 9:04 a.m.
Haslam III is expected to speak to the media about the purchase of the team at a press conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. today.
Haslam’s purchase of the team now awaits the approval of the NFL and its owners.
The team confirmed early Thursday evening that Randy Lerner agreed to sell his stake in the Cleveland Browns to Haslam, CEO of the Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J Corporation, along with his family.
The sale is expected to be approved by the NFL and its owners at the NFL owners meeting in October. A source with knowledge of the negotiations between Lerner and Haslam tells Fox 8 News that the deal will be “rubber stamped” by the league since it was the league who brought the two sides together.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could hold a special meeting of the league’s owners to expedite the sales approval, according to the source.
Haslam issued a statement which read:
“This is a very exciting time for my family and me,” said Haslam. “To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true. We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL – something all Browns fans want and deserve. We plan to bring relentless dedication and hard work to every aspect of this organization, and we look forward to getting to know this team and community as quickly as possible. Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report the sale had been finalized for more than $1 billion.
Schefter said via Twitter, “Sale of Browns is now official and complete. Randy Lerner sold them to Jimmy Haslam for in excess of $1 billion.”
According to the NFL Network, former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is part of Haslam’s executive team.
Lerner released a statement on the sale on Thursday evening which read:
“On behalf of my family and as trustee for the Lerner Family Trust, which holds the shares of the Cleveland Browns, I have agreed to sell the Browns to Jimmy Haslam and his family.
I was approached regarding Mr. Haslam’s interest several weeks ago. While as a fiduciary I have always felt it was my responsibility to listen to offers, I had not been approached with a proposal that felt as natural and complete as Mr. Haslam’s. He had done a lot of work on the Browns and the City of Cleveland and first and foremost gave me his personal assurance the team would remain in Cleveland.
As I was at first overwhelmed, I asked for a few days to consider the proposal during which time I consulted with my mother and sister. Over this short period we agreed that the proposal was strong, the buyers made sense and the time was right for us to move on.
Going forward, we anticipate that the League will meet and vote on the deal and the closing is expected to follow shortly thereafter. During this time the organization will operate as it has in the past with all senior executives in place.
While a statement like this is certainly part of the process, it couldn’t possibly capture my feelings towards the Browns and the many people whom I feel very strong about. Those feelings therefore will need to be expressed in person. Notwithstanding, I feel a deep debt of gratitude to the loyal and passionate fan base, as well as the people I’ve met and worked with over the years. It has been a privilege to be involved with the Cleveland Browns and my only hope is that the Haslam family has the best of luck and that the Browns are restored to their rightful place among NFL Champions.”
Randy Lerner had been the owner of the team since the death of his father, Al Lerner, in October of 2002.
Al was the team’s owner since it returned to the league in 1999. He won the rights to the new franchise in 1998 by placing a $530 million bid with the league.
Randy has owned a Premier League soccer club, Aston Villa, since 2006.
According to Forbes the Browns are the 30th most valuable team in professional sports.