Cleveland Browns sold to Tennessee businessman - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Cleveland Browns sold to Tennessee businessman

BEREA, OH (WOIO) - Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam III is the new owner of the Cleveland Browns. Randy Lerner today agreed to sell a majority stake in the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam, CEO of the Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J Corporation, along with his family.

Haslam is the president and CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stops.  In 2008, he became a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Haslam will have to sell his share of the Steelers before the sale becomes official.

"This is a very exciting time for my family and me," said Haslam. "To own such a storied franchise as the Cleveland Browns, with its rich tradition and history, is a dream come true.  We are committed to keeping the team in Cleveland and seeing it get back to the elite of the NFL – something all Browns fans want and deserve.  We plan to bring relentless dedication and hard work to every aspect of this organization, and we look forward to getting to know this team and community as quickly as possible.  Our family is committed to becoming an integral part of the Cleveland community. We also want to thank Randy Lerner for his friendship, counsel and support during this process."

The deal will start with a $700 million purchase then Haslam will pay Lerner over $300 million at a later date to complete the deal.

The deal won't become official until the NFL owners meet in October.  They will have to approve the sale to Haslam.

The news was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN on Twitter.  Schefter tweeted, "the sale of Browns is now official and complete. Randy Lerner sold them to Jimmy Haslam for in excess of $1 billion."

Statement from Randy Lerner:

On behalf of my family and as trustee for the Lerner Family Trust, which holds the shares of the Cleveland Browns, I have agreed to sell the Browns to Jimmy Haslam and his family.    
I was approached regarding Mr. Haslam's interest several weeks ago.  While as a fiduciary I have always felt it was my responsibility to listen to offers, I had not been approached with a proposal that felt as natural and complete as Mr. Haslam's. He had done a lot of work on the Browns and the City of Cleveland and first and foremost gave me his personal assurance the team would remain in Cleveland.

As I was at first overwhelmed, I asked for a few days to consider the proposal during which time I consulted with my mother and sister. Over this short period we agreed that the proposal was strong, the buyers made sense and the time was right for us to move on.      
Going forward, we anticipate that the League will meet and vote on the deal and the closing is expected to follow shortly thereafter. During this time the organization will operate as it has in the past with all senior executives in place.  

While a statement like this is certainly part of the process, it couldn't possibly capture my feelings towards the Browns and the many people whom I feel very strong about.  Those feelings therefore will need to be expressed in person.  Notwithstanding, I feel a deep debt of gratitude to the loyal and passionate fan base, as well as the people I've met and worked with over the years. It has been a privilege to be involved with the Cleveland Browns and my only hope is that the Haslam family has the best of luck and that the Browns are restored to their rightful place among NFL Champions.

Randy Lerner assumed control of the Browns in October 2002 following the death of his father, Al.  The National Football League awarded the Cleveland franchise to Al Lerner on September 8, 1998.  The formal transfer of ownership from the Browns Trust to Lerner took place on October 23, 1998.

Copyright 2012 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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