Browns Owners Agree To Buy Columbus Crew, Keep Team In Ohio
With their NFL franchise in better shape, Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam are tackling soccer.
The Haslams have agreed to take over the Columbus Crew,
guaranteeing the Major League Soccer team will not relocate.
Since October, the Haslams have been working with a group headed by
former team doctor Peter Edwards to keep the Crew in Ohio while
exploring the possibility of buying the team. On Friday, the sides
announced an agreement, ending speculation about the team's
''Throughout our conversations, it's been overwhelmingly clear that
Crew SC belongs in Columbus, and we are thrilled to have reached an
agreement in principle to assume an ownership position in Major
League Soccer and to operate Columbus Crew SC,'' the Haslams said
in a joint statement with Edwards. ''As the stewards of Crew SC, we
will always be focused on building a championship caliber team that
makes the city proud, creating dynamic and memorable fan
experiences and deeply engaging the community to make a positive
Before the Haslams became involved, there was a strong chance the
Crew, one of the MLS' founding franchises, was moving to Austin,
Texas. The MLS is expected to put an expansion team in Austin.
Columbus officials this month announced that Mapfre Stadium, the
Crew's home since 1999, is being repurposed as a community sports
park and training facility.
''While we work to finalize the deal promptly, we want to state
publicly the tremendous collaboration and community support for
Crew SC, which has set the stage for a powerful plan that includes
a world-class soccer stadium - a critical step that will help
ensure the club's success on and off the field,'' MLS Commissioner
Don Garber said.
The Haslams bought the Browns in 2012 from Randy Lerner. Their
tenure has been beset with coaching and front-office turnover, but
the Browns (7-7-1) enter Sunday's game at Baltimore with a chance
to post their first winning season since 2007.
The Haslams have long viewed the Columbus market as essential in
the Browns' overall growth. The team once considered moving its
summer camp to central Ohio before upgrading its year-round
facility in Berea.
The city attorney's office on Friday announced the end of it's lawsuit filed to keep the team in Columbus. The suit filed against owner Anthony Precourt and MLS cited the Art Modell law and its provisions regarding local ownership and the public financing of sports facilities.