SBD/August 6, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he hopes the Browns' sale to Jimmy Haslam III will be finalized in "a matter of weeks," according to Ryan Lewis of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Goodell said, "We've been working on it. That part of the process is important and we take great steps to ensure that it obviously meets all of the requirements of the NFL that we have the right type of structure in place with respect to financing. Goodell said the sale likely will take "a little longer than two weeks," but added it will be "no longer than October unless there’s some unusual delay.” Lewis reported Haslam’s purchase will become official "once the NFL’s finance committee recommends it and 75 percent of the league’s owners vote for approval." The owners are not scheduled to meet "until Oct. 16-17 in Chicago, though NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said it’s possible a special meeting could be called to hold a vote sooner." Aiello indicated that teams received a memo "notifying them to stay tuned for a possible earlier vote." Lewis noted Goodell has not "targeted the start of the regular season as a hopeful sale date," but thinks the "strong management constructed under Randy Lerner’s ownership will weather any potential issues, should the deal drag deep into the first few weeks of the season" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/5). In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot noted it took owners "only about two weeks to approve" the sale of the Jaguars last year from Wayne Weaver to Shahid Khan (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/4). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan reports Haslam "was directed to the Browns by the league, which guided him through the process, the typical job of a mergers and acquisitions expert." The NFL "similarly aided" Khan on his purchase of the Jaguars (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/6 issue).
WINNING THE PRESS CONFERENCE: Haslam held his introductory press conference Friday, and in Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote Haslam "hit all the right notes." Haslam "thinks it's important to attend the Browns' practice at the stadium Wednesday and shake some hands." He also is thinking about "watching the first exhibition game from the seats, instead of a loge." Shaw: "I wouldn't exactly call it re-recruiting the fan base. But both gestures come across as recognition that the Browns are lucky to have you, not the other way around. That's not exactly been the message of late. ... We don't know what happens from here, but that can only be a good thing. First impressions of Haslam make it seem even better" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/4). In Akron, Marla Ridenour wrote Haslam "oozed confidence, even though he repeatedly referred to the serious responsibility he is about to take on as Browns majority owner and in four years as sole owner." He "wants to be a man of the people." Haslam said of attending the practice, "It's important for me to be there, greet people, shake hands. I thought about the first exhibition game, why don't we just sit in the stands instead of sitting in the owners' box? See what the facility feels like sitting as a quote regular fan" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/4). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote, "The new Browns owner easily won over the majority of the fan base with his enthusiasm, something that was always difficult for Randy Lerner to display in public" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/5). Pluto in an open letter to Haslam wrote he "hit all the major notes just right in your first press conference." Pluto: "Before anyone asked, you stressed that you bought the Browns to keep them in Cleveland and to win in Cleveland. The fans had to love how you kept calling the Steelers 'that other team' rather than saying the name" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/4).
HOLMGREN'S FUTURE: The PLAIN DEALER's Cabot reports Haslam is "open to keeping" Browns President Mike Holmgren "around for the 2012 season -- if Holmgren truly wants to stay." Haslam went to dinner with Holmgren Thursday night and "spent much of the day with him Friday." He declined to confirm whether former Eagles President Joe Banner "will join him here once the sale is approved." If Banner joins the team, Holmgren "most likely will be gone, and probably right away" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/4). In Canton, Steve Doerschuk noted Haslam "isn't saying anything" about the future of Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert or coach Pat Shurmur. Doerschuk wrote it would "seem to make sense to retain much of the current regime if it looks like there's a reasonable definition of progress taking place in 2012." Haslam said, "I think that's very fair" (Canton REPOSITORY, 8/5). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Browns "will figure out a good and effective way for Mike Holmgren to walk out on his terms, because there has been some speculation around the league that Mike Holmgren would be walking away” ("NFL Live," ESPN, 8/3). ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley wrote under the header, "Advice To Haslam: Don't Clean House." Hensley: "Haslam needs to give the current regime a chance to prove itself." The talent level "has improved each year" under Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmer (ESPN.com, 8/3).
WELCOME TO THE FRATERNITY: In Cleveland, Tom Reed reported Haslam this week is going to Boston to meet with Patriots Owner Robert Kraft to "learn the business of the NFL." Kraft invited Haslam to visit, and Haslam said, "I'd be crazy not to. He said, 'I want you to come up here, and I'll show you everything.' I'd have to be the dumbest guy ever not to take him up on that. There are several other people who have reached out and want to do the same thing. I'm going to listen and learn, and I'm going to be taking a lot of notes" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/4). ESPN BOSTON's Mike Reiss noted the gesture "highlights one of the unique dynamics of NFL ownership -- owners are competitors but at the same time partners." Kraft is one of the most influential owners in the NFL, and he "knows it helps to have allies among the group" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 8/5).
LEGAL TEAM: AM LAW DAILY's Brian Baxter reported Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz Exec Committee co-Chair Edward Herlihy and corporate partner Lawrence Makow "are leading a team from the firm advising Lerner on the proposed sale of the Browns." Squire Sanders is also advising the team, and that firm has "long enjoyed a close relationship with the Lerner family." Squire Sanders partner Fred Nance "has been a longtime legal adviser to the Browns and was actively involved in the sale of the team to Haslam" (AMERICANLAWYER.com, 8/3).
A crowd of 41,304 on Saturday at the Broncos' scrimmage at Sports Authority Field at Mile High "spilled out of the stadium's lower bowl, forcing the Broncos to open up the stadium's upper deck," according to Jeff Legwold of the DENVER POST. The fans, watching QB Peyton Manning make his Broncos debut, was the “largest to see the team practice in any venue in the franchise's history.” The attendance “crushed the single-practice record of 20,782 set two years ago” (DENVER POST, 8/5). Meanwhile, in DC, Mike Jones noted the Redskins on Saturday drew “an estimated 24,650 fans” to watch QB Robert Griffin III’s debut. Redskins Owner Dan Snyder said of the buzz that Griffin has generated, “I think it’s obviously exciting for everybody. It’s a big deal and we’re just thrilled with him as a person, what he stands for, as a Redskin, and it’s exciting for all of Redskins Nation” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/4). In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy noted the Bengals on Saturday “drew slightly over 6,000 fans to Paul Brown Stadium” (CINCINNATI.com, 8/4). In Charlotte, Jonathan Jones noted the Panthers on Saturday drew 22,070 to the team's public practice at Bank of American Stadium, the "largest crowd at Panthers' Fan Fest since 1996" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/5). The Buccaneers said that “about 30,000” fans attended a scrimmage and autograph session Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/5). In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane noted the Dolphins drew 8,721 on Saturday for a scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium (PALM BEACH POST, 8/5).
Prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera’s interest in buying the team “puts him and his company, Ubiquiti Networks Inc., in the spotlight during a time when Ubiquiti is mired in controversy and has seen its stock price fall more than 60 percent since early May,” according to Diana Samuels of the SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The stock drop has “caused people to question whether Pera can afford the team.” Pera said of Ubiquiti, “I think in the long run we’ll be OK. I think we’re looking at some short-term irritation, and it’s irrelevant to our long-term goals.” The NBA “should be going through an extensive vetting process,” which will include Ubiquiti’s “recent controversies, such as an acknowledgement that the company’s products were illegally sold into Iran” (SILICON VALLEY/SAN JOSE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/3 issue). In Memphis, Ronald Tillery noted Pera has “continued to be on the offensive in Memphis as he awaits NBA approval.” Pera is “actively seeking local partners.” He flew to Colorado “last month to meet with AutoZone founder and current local partner J.R. ‘Pitt’ Hyde,” and he also has “been in Memphis recently.” It is unclear “with whom he met, though sources confirmed he met with FedEx CEO Fred Smith and other FedEx leaders” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/4).
In Boston, Frank Dell’Apa noted Celtics F Kevin Garnett last year decided to “chip in” as an investor with Serie A soccer club AS Roma. However, the NBA “blocked the move” because AS Roma Owner & CEO James Pallotta is a Celtics investor. An NBA source said, “If you enter into a business agreement with the owner of a team that doesn’t involve playing service, there are potential problems. Maybe not in this case. But there is a chance of, say, making a contract a lot larger.” Dell’Apa noted Heat F LeBron James is “allowed to invest in Liverpool because Fenway Sports Group has no connection with the NBA.” The source said, “With LeBron, there is no tie-in whatsoever, so it’s a different deal. It’s like having a business relationship with Nike. We make it simple -- you can’t have a business deal with your team, or any other team, because there is the possibility of an underhanded deal there. It’s pretty clear-cut.” Dell’Apa wrote, “There was hope for an exception to be made because Garnett’s investment would have been drawn from a blind trust administered by his attorney. But the NBA said no dice” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/5).
ROCKY ROAD: In Denver, Troy Renck noted Rockies Owner Dick Monfort on Friday wrote a letter to season-ticket holders, explaining that the team's front office shakeup "will help" the team to improve. Monfort "pointed the finger at himself and said firings weren’t the answer.” Monfort in the letter said, “Our team record remains far below what we desire. I offer you no excuses and I also refuse to blame any one person. The team performance is our problem, and we are going to fix it” (DENVER POST, 8/4). In a separate piece, Renck wrote since the death of Rockies President Keli McGregor in April ‘10, GM Dan O’Dowd “has been spread too thin.” O’Dowd “absorbed some presidential duties while also trying to serve as a traditional GM.” Monfort had “no intention of canning O’Dowd,” so O’Dowd “proposed the realignment of the front office” (DENVER POST, 8/5).