The Cleveland Browns have been sold by Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam for in excess of $1 billion, league sources said.
The sale of the Browns is laid out in two parts. Haslam will take over controlling interest of the Browns for over $700 million. Then, in the second phase of the purchase, he will pay over $300 million to complete the deal.
NFL ownership is expected to approve Haslam's purchase at its October meeting. Commissioner Roger Goodell could expedite the process by calling a special meeting, although that is considered unlikely.
The NFL helped bring Haslam to Lerner so that a sale could be completed smoothly, efficiently and with a high probability of success. Haslam had informed the league how much he wanted to buy a team, and Lerner -- who is more interested in his soccer team (Aston Villa in England) -- was interested in selling the Browns.
Paperwork between the two sides was completed Thursday morning.
Haslam is president and CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America with more than 550 retail locations. He is the older brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who also worked for the family business before he was elected mayor of Knoxville in 2003 and again in 2007, then governor in 2010.
The Browns have been owned by the Lerner family since 1999, when the franchise was reborn after the original club moved to Baltimore. The late Al Lerner, Randy's father, purchased the inactive franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million.
Randy Lerner, 50, inherited the Browns in 2002 following his father's death.
Some fans have been unhappy with Randy Lerner, long criticizing him as a disengaged owner of a club that has made the playoffs just once since it was recreated.
Haslam has been a minority investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers and in a 2010 profile told the team's website that he had been a Dallas Cowboys and then an Indianapolis Colts fan. But with the Pittsburgh investment, Haslam said he had become "1,000 percent a Steelers fan." The Steelers, of course, are the Browns' chief rivals.
Haslam has begun to make plans with the Rooney family to sell the portion of the Steelers that he owns. By the time his purchase of the Browns becomes official, he no longer is expected to own the percentage of the Steelers that he controls.
Edited by Windu, August 02, 2012 - 02:51 PM.