Browns fans began Friday looking forward to a new training camp which kicks into full swing this weekend in Berea, but instead, huge news erupted off the field that owner Randy Lerner was in negotiations to sell the team to a group led by Jimmy Haslam. Rumors surfaced this past spring that Lerner may be shopping the team, but these reports indicate now that the much-maligned owner is on the verge of unloading the city's most beloved franchise.
Of course, the news of a Browns sale immediately prompts questions, however baseless, of a potential franchise move. There's almost no chance of that, but the scar tissue from Art Modell will always remain. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has issued a statement on the matter, trying to quell fears and reinforce the Browns' commitment to Cleveland:
"The Cleveland Browns have some of the most loyal and passionate fans who have helped make it one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The city took precautionary measures to insure that fans would be able to cheer on the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium for years to come."
"The 30-year lease to the Cleveland Browns commenced in 1999 and continues to 2029. This lease, like the prior Municipal Stadium lease, for which the City of Cleveland successfully obtained an injunction in 1995, requires the Browns to play all their regular season and playoff home games in Cleveland Browns Stadium."
"If this requirement is not honored, the city has legal options that could be pursued if necessary."