Lerner sells billion dollar Browns to Haslam III
On 16th October 2012 the NFL owners unamimously approved Jimmy Haslam III's acquisition of Cleveland Browns from Randy Lerner for US$1 billion.
Cleveland Browns and Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is set for a US$1 billion-plus windfall after agreeing a deal that will see James Haslam III take the Browns off his hands.
According to multiple reports, Haslam has agreed to purchase a 70 per cent stake in the NFL team from Lerner now, and the remaining 30 per cent in four years' time, for over US$1 billion.
“To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true,” Haslam said in a statement. “We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL.”
The Browns, who were 4-12 last season, have never made the Super Bowl game and last won a championship game in 1964.
- Browns partner Aramark to revamp hospitality programme
- City funds Cleveland Browns Stadium renovations
The Browns had revenue of US$247 million and an operating loss of US$2.9 million after the 2010 season, according to Forbes.
The deal is subject to league approval, with the only stumbling block believed to be Haslam's minority ownership stake in another NFL franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Haslam is president of Pilot Travel Centers, the largest operator of travel centres and truck stops in the US.
The company has 13,000 employees nationwide; it operates more than 300 retail facilities in 41 states, featuring nationally recognised fast food restaurants such as Subway, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Denny’s and McDonald’s; and it also owns and operates 40 convenience stores in the Knoxville area.
In a 2010 interview in the Steelers' website, Haslam was asked whether he was a Steelers fan before he became an investor. "No, I was actually originally a Dallas Cowboys fan, and then an Indianapolis Colts fan," he replied. "[Now] I am 1,000 per cent a Steelers fan!"
It is thought that Haslam, 57, is now a Browns fan.
Lerner inherited the franchise from his father Al, who had purchased it as an expansion franchise for US$530 million in 1998. Cleveland had been without an NFL team since 1995, when the originally Browns team was relocated to Baltimore and renamed the Ravens.
“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,” Lerner said in a statement. “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.”
- Aston Villa's coffers swelled by over US$20 million
- Local lad Agbonlahor delivers cash as well as goals
Aston Villa, which Lerner purchased in 2006, endured a difficult Premier League season last year, finishing 16th.
Disgruntlement amongst the club's fanbase extended to the ownership, leading chief executive Paul Faulkner to insist that Lerner is still passionate about and committed to the club.
- Length of contract: N/A
- Annualised value: N/A
- Overall value: US$1 billion
Browns partner Aramark to revamp hospitality programme - 26 June 2012
ESPN and ACC reach billion-dollar agreement - 10 May 2012
Westfield takes London 2012 sponsorship past target - 07 September 2011
ESPN signs multi-billion dollar college deal - 22 November 2012
AFL unveils bumper billion-dollar broadcast rights deal - 28 April 2011
Related blog posts
Bruce Ratner on building the Barclays Center - 27 June 2012, Quick-Fire Questions
Dick Ebersol is the Master of the Games - 20 July 2009, Notes & Insights
Randy Lerner ploughs Â£138.6 million into Aston Villa - 27 January 2010, Notes & Insights
Online poker’s Black Friday set to hit sport sponsorship - 20 April 2011, Notes & Insights