Pro Football HOFer Jim Brown decided to return to the Browns front office because Owner Jimmy Haslam III "gave him the respect that former team president Mike Holmgren did not," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Brown yesterday was named Special Advisor to the Browns, three years after being removed as the team's Exec Advisor. He will "advise players and represent the organization at charitable and corporate events, among other things." Brown remains "very involved" with his Amer-I-Can program in Cleveland and L.A. However, he "promised that he'll be a very visible member of the organization and the Browns will be his first priority." Brown: "If there's any chores that Jimmy wants me involved in on his level, I'm going to be very happy to do that. So you will see as much of me as they can stand.'' He admitted that his time away from the Browns was "difficult." Brown: "I will stand by the new ownership come hell or high water and I will be doing everything in my power to help the Cleveland Browns be successful" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/30). In Akron, Nate Ulrich reports after it became clear last year that Haslam would purchase the team, Brown "attended an alumni golf outing at Avon Oaks Country Club in September and expressed his desire to become part of the new regime’s plans." Brown and Haslam a couple of days later "began discussing the idea of Brown rejoining the team in an official capacity" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/30). ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley wrote Haslam "fixed one embarrassment for the Browns on Wednesday, officially mending the relationship" with Brown. Hensley: "This is where Haslam gets it. He is from Tennessee but he has tried to show the utmost respect to the Browns' history" (ESPN.com, 5/29).
CLEANING HOUSE: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote as Browns CEO Joe Banner "speaks more and more about being the man with a plan in Berea, you get the sense he's itching to say what's happening there is not business as usual." Banner said of the organization before he got there, "They've been filling needs year by year, sometimes with expensive players who aren't that good ... there's been a lot of cheap talk about long-term plans here, and I'm not talking last year. You go back 15 years through different administrations. They all have been basically trying to win now." But Shaw wrote people "need to see proof" that Haslam is the "right owner, that giving Banner even more responsibility than he enjoyed in Philadelphia was a great decision, that Banner hiring [GM Michael] Lombardi was gold." Banner added, "We came in with this attitude: Are we buying a house and renovating it? Or are we buying a beautiful piece of land where you essentially have to knock (the house) down and rebuild it?" Shaw: "Guess which one they picked. Put your hard hat on. A foundation is being poured" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/27).
Former MLS Chivas USA youth coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court "charging the team with discrimination, claiming they were fired earlier this year 'because they were neither Mexican nor Latino,'" according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. The complaint states that shortly after Chivas USA Owner Jorge Vergara and wife, Angelica Fuentes, "assumed sole ownership" of the team last summer, Vergara "told his staff that employees who did not speak Spanish would be fired." The complaint also stated that shortly after that, team President & Chief Business Officer Jose David "asked Chronopoulos to compile lists of Academy players and coaches who were Mexican or Mexican American and those that weren't." Both coaches "subsequently filed written complaints of discrimination and harassment" to team HR & Administration Manager Cynthia Craig. The complaint stated that Craig "did not follow through on a promise to investigate." The coaches said that Craig four months ago "asked both men to resign in exchange for two weeks of severance pay -- a request both men refused" (LATIMES.com, 5/29). In L.A., Phil Collin reports Chivas USA coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola "was fired" last night, "barely one-third into his first season." The timing of the firing and the lawsuit "might be curious," but Chivas USA has "taken strange twists" under Vergara (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/30). Also in L.A., Nick Green notes since Vergara assumed ownership, team employees have "fled en masse and established players -- including many who are non-Latino -- have been replaced by Mexican imports, changing the complexion of the team and the organization." Calichman and Chronopoulos' lawsuit quotes Vergara as saying at a November meeting, "If you don't speak Spanish, you can go work for Galaxy, unless you speak Chinese, which is not even a language." Calichman, who coached the club's under-18 Academy team, said that the team "edict caused 'chaos' among parents" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/30).
Triple-A Int'l League Charlotte Knights VP & COO Dan Rajkowski said that events at the club's new $54M BB&T Ballpark such as the ACC baseball tournament, MLB exhibitions, concerts and rentals of club areas "will all help the bottom line," according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Some prices for seating at the venue "have been finalized," and of the "987 club seats, including access to an indoor lounge and bar area, 170 in the upper level require a five-year commitment and cost $41 per game, or $2,952 for the 72-game season." The remaining 817 club seats, at the "home-plate level, sell for $21 per game, or $1,512 per season." Home-plate club seats "require a minimum purchase of three or five years." Box seats, which "account for the rest of the stadium, other than outfield and berm areas, cost $10.50 per game, or $756 per season." Each season ticket "requires a commitment of two or four years." Club seats "go on sale this week." The stadium also "features 22 suites, with 17 to be leased on an annual basis with terms of seven and 10 years." About 70% of the suites have "been sold for $15,000 to $50,000, depending on whether they are shared with other tenants and whether food is included." Consultants estimate attendance will "surpass 600,000 in an uptown stadium." Based on those projections, revenue "would reach" $10-12M annually, up from $3.5M at the franchise’s current home in Ft. Mill, S.C. The team this week also "added two full-time sales staff members to work uptown and focus on the new ballpark." Rajkowski said that Ovations, the club's current concessionaire, will "stay with the team in Charlotte." Merchandise sales will "improve not just from larger crowds, but also from a logo and color overhaul now under way" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/28).