The Cleveland Browns are for sale. Team President, Mike Holmgren confirms owner, Randy Lerner is selling the team.
"He (Lerner) is giving up a controlling interest in the team," said Holmgren.
Holmgren would not confirm a timetable on the sale. Of course, the NFL would have to approve any sale.
What does this mean for the team and its whereabouts.
A lawyer for the Browns, their general counsel, says the Browns aren't going anywhere. In a brief phone interview with Fred Nance, he said "(Browns owner) Randy Lerner told me as a prerequisite of any conversation with anyone including (businessman) Jim Haslam - a prerequisite of the discussion was there was no plan, no intention of moving the team."
Nance says Randy Lerner got that commitment without hesitation. He adds, "The Browns and the city's interests are aligned. The Browns aren't going anywhere."
Browns owner Randy Lerner has released the following statement regarding Haslam being interested in investing in team.
STATEMENT FROM BROWNS OWNER RANDY LERNER
"In connection with current rumors and press inquiries, I can report that I've been approached by Mr. Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in making an investment in the Cleveland Browns. We are currently in negotiations and both sides have agreed to keep that dialogue and its details private. Given that any transaction would require League approval, care has been taken so that this process will not be disruptive to the organization, in particular the football team, as it prepares for the upcoming season. We will share further details or make an announcement if it becomes necessary."
Haslam is the CEO of Pilot Flying J, a chain of convenience stores and travel centers throughout the United States and Canada.
The company is headquartered in Knoxville, TN.
Haslam was listed as an investor of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.
After Randy Lerner released his statement, Mayor Frank Jackson released a statement:
The Cleveland Browns have some of the most loyal and passionate fans which have helped make it one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The city took precautionary measures to ensure that fans would be able to cheer on the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium for years to come.
The 30-year lease to the Cleveland Browns commenced in 1999 and continues to 2029. This lease, like the prior Municipal Stadium lease for which the City of Cleveland successfully obtained an injunction in 1996, requires the Browns to play all their regular season and playoff home games in the Cleveland Browns Stadium. If this requirement is not honored the city has legal options that could be pursued if necessary.
Forbes listed the Browns worth as $977 million. It was announced Al Lerner paid $530 million when he was announced as the owner in 1998.