SBD/August 5, 2013/Franchises

Browns' Event Draws Big Crowd As New Ownership Tries To Win Back Fans

Many Browns season-ticket holders were upset by the team eliminating PSLs
The Browns had 24,131 fans attend "Family Night" at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night, "nearly 5,000 more than last year's crowd for the same event," according to Steve Doerschuk of the CANTON REPOSITORY. Team Owner Jimmy Haslam III said, "Good crowd. Good night" (CANTON REPOSITORY, 8/4). In Ohio, Jeff Schudel wrote Haslam, Browns President Alec Scheiner and the "rest of their crew" deserve credit because they are "trying to reach out to fans" this offseason. Schudel: "Most ideas will be well-received. Some might not work, and those will be deep-sixed if they fail, but at least they are making effort." The "new attitude in the front office is the Browns have to win back their fans and create a fan-friendly atmosphere at FirstEnergy Stadium." They are "trying that with ideas to make entering the stadium better, improve cellphone reception, expand the team shop and improve the pregame entertainment." Many longtime season-ticket holders are "understandably upset management decided to do away with PSLs." Team CEO Joe Banner said, "We (did away with PSLs) because we view that as something that was very friendly. I know some people misinterpreted and didn't get that, but it is actually a very fan-friendly decision. ... Most people understood it and realized it was actually a good thing for them. I don't know of any stadiums where there isn't a cap on the number of PSLs in the stadium" (Willoughby NEWS-HERALD, 8/4).

FENG SHUI IN BEREA: THE MMQB's Peter King notes the Browns spent $5M to "re-do the second floor of their training facility -- and their organizational personality." King: "I’ve toured Twitter in San Francisco, and this floor reminds me of the Twitterverse: The Browns' coaching, front-office, ownership and PR and broadcasting departments are all up here, wide open so that people see other people working." When a big group sale or luxury suite sale is completed, "a bell is rung, and the sales team all claps." Banner said, "Twitter attracts the youngest and brightest people, which is what we want to do. But I don’t want to copy Twitter or Google. I just want to create an atmosphere where good people want to work, and good people want to stay and help build a winner. In my opinion, improving physical space is a great opportunity to help change the culture" (MMQB.SI.com, 8/5).

BACK-UP PLAN: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan cites sources as saying that Jimmy Haslam's father, Jim Haslam II, "would take over the club" if Jimmy is forced to step down due to the investigation into Pilot Flying J. The NFL and Jimmy Haslam "developed a contingency plan in the aftermath of the April 15 FBI raid" on the truck stop company's HQs. There are "no indications at the moment that Haslam is stepping down." Should Jim Haslam take over the team, it is "not believed the league would require an increase in his equity ownership." Jim Haslam would "not be viewed as a general partner in this case but practically akin to an executive whose owner has designated that person authority and voting rights" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/5 issue).
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