Columbus' corporate community wants the state to pay five-million dollars to build a sports facility at Ohio State University to host the Cleveland Browns training camp.
The story was first reported Thursday by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Columbus Partnership, a who's who of local corporations, has quietly placed the proposal into the state's capital improvements budget plan, which will not get legislative consideration until after the March primary elections. The proposal is being sold as a way to give young people the opportunity to play certain sports during the time the Browns would not be using the facility. The Browns are owned by truck stop magnate Jimmy Haslam, who is worth 2.7 billion dollars, according to Forbes magazine. The head of the Columbus Partnership is Alex Fischer. He is a friend of Haslam, an OSU trustee and the former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Commercial Development. Fischer graduated from the University of Tennessee. Haslam is from that state and is a UT football booster. In 2014, Haslam met with Fischer and then-Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman in his box at the team's stadium to discuss moving training camp to Columbus. Haslam's team plays in a stadium built with and maintained by taxpayer dollars, and he pays no rent on the Browns team headquarters in Berea, which will get a 15 million dollar taxpayer-funded renovation in the near future. Berea taxpayers have given the Browns 25 million dollars since 1999. In addition to having taxpayers fund more of Haslam's business ventures, the proposal would mean a loss of tax revenue for the City of Berea. More from Kevin Niedermier of member station WKSU in Kent.
Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem says moving the Browns training camp elsewhere
comes up every couple of years. This time, he says the team gave his city and
several others the opportunity to explain why they should host the camp. Many NFL
teams hold their training outside their home cities to gain extra exposure. Kleem
says losing the three-week long training camp would have a small impact on city
coffers...the big benefit is having the team headquarters in town...
"We receive anywhere from $2.4 million to $3 million a year in income tax from the
Browns, and the training camp portion of that is probably in the $30,000 to $40,000
range. So the economic impact of training camp is not as big as some people may
think. Now, that doesn't mean I would encourage them to relocate."
The city of Berea build the Browns' facility in 1991, and has an agreement for the
team to stay until at least 20-28
Link to Cleveland Plain Dealer story: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/02/cleveland_browns_and_columbus.html
Link to member page of Columbus Partnership website: http://www.columbuspartnership.com/members/