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Cleveland Browns sell for more than $1 billion
Truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam III will get 70 percent now, and 30 percent in 4 years

Kabir Bhatia
Quarterback Colt McCoy runs the Browns offense during training camp in Berea. He and his teammates will soon be playing for a new team owner, Jimmy Haslam III.
Courtesy of Ron Schwane, Associated Press
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The Cleveland Browns have been sold for more than $1 billion to Tennessee truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam III.  WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia spoke with sports commentator Terry Pluto about why a losing team went for so much money.

Cleveland Browns sell for more than $1 billion

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By the numbers, the Browns may not look like the 30th most valuable sports team in the world. 

Since its 1999 rebirth, the team has won less than a third of its games and made the playoffs just once.  Forbes magazine last year ranked Randy Lerner as the fourth worst owner in the NFL.

So he’s selling 70 percent of the team to the man who runs Pilot/Flying J truck stops, Jimmy Haslam III.  The remaining 30 percent goes to Haslam in four years, assuming the NFL approves the sale.

The price tag is about double what Randy Lerner’s father, Al, paid for the team in 1998, and WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says the boost is due to a number of factors.

“That’s based on the fact that the NFL keeps growing, the TV pot keeps getting bigger and bigger.  And a big thing, too, if you’re an owner, is the brand new labor agreement that goes on for a minimum of seven years.  [So] you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s going to cost to run this operation, and that helps you to really project profits.”

WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto.  He says Haslam’s minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers actually helped him get a leg up on the Browns sale, as he’s already been vetted by the NFL.  And moving the team is out of the question for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that the Browns have another 18 seasons left on the lease at Browns stadium.

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