SBD/November 6, 2012/Franchises

Browns Intend To Go Deeper Into Ohio To Market To Fans, Increase Season-Ticket Base

Haslam plans to market the Browns in Columbus and throughout Ohio
Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III said that he will “venture outside the immediate area, into Columbus and other parts south, in an effort to build ticket sales by energizing a fan base leery of still more losing and another push of the reset button,” according to Joel Hammond of CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. Haslam said, “We're selling the Browns, and it's not just in Cleveland. It's Northeast Ohio; it's all of Ohio. We're very respectful of the Brown (family that owns the Cincinnati Bengals), but there are a lot of Browns fans in Columbus. I don't know that we've taken advantage of that.” Scarborough Research data “seems to back up Columbus' status as a battleground market, at least in terms of pro sports loyalty.” The data showed that 37% of adults in the Columbus area "either have watched, attended or listened to" the Browns and that figure is about 32% for the Bengals. Meanwhile, Hammond reports the Browns in mid-October were “seeking bids from media companies for the rights to the team's flagship radio broadcasts.” Browns Senior VP/Business Development Jim Ross said that the team is “aiming to increase the number of radio affiliates statewide and to hook up with stronger affiliates in markets where the team already has a radio presence.” The Browns' radio network currently “spans 28 affiliates, with only four in Columbus or markets south” (CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 11/5 issue).

MEETING OF THE MINDS: Browns General Counsel Fred Nance said that Haslam last week met with the "leadership of the region’s chamber of commerce, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, to talk about ‘points of intersection in economic development’ between the Browns and Cleveland.” CRAIN's Hammond in a separate piece notes the Browns are “part of a committee formed by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that put together an RFP for developers to pitch their ideas for the lakefront, but neither Mr. Haslam nor Mr. Nance would commit to the team being a partner in development efforts.” In addition, the Browns have been “involved in negotiations with potential naming rights sponsors for Cleveland Browns Stadium, and there will be a naming rights deal in place for the 2013 season.” When Haslam was asked “why not Pilot Flying J,” he said, “I think there are other companies that would have more interest.” Haslam also reiterated that the team “would bring in top architects to study improvements to the stadium” (CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 11/5 issue).

ROAD TRIP: Travel Channel announced that it is partnering with NFL Films and RIVR Media on a new series entitled, “NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns,” set to premiere Dec. 4 at 10:00pm ET. NFL Films will provide access to the net for behind-the-scenes footage as the team travels to their remaining away games this season. Viewers will see how the Browns prepare each week through the eyes of the players and team management, including Haslam’s new role as owner (Browns). In Cleveland, Tom Reed notes Haslam’s wife, Dee, owns production company RIVR Media and “her television connections and Haslam's ownership will afford the Browns exposure they otherwise would not have enjoyed” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/6).
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