Jimmy Haslam’s Columbus Crew purchase expanding Browns footprint?
The Cleveland Browns owner will be a part of purchasing the Columbus Crew of the MLS to keep the team in the Columbus, and it could help expand the Browns footprint in the city.
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly part of a group that will purchase the Columbus Crew soccer club of the MLS.
For the past year, the Crew were on the verge of being moved to Austin, TX, leaving Columbus without a professional soccer team.
But after a lawsuit was filed against Anthony Precourt, current owner of the Crew, it seems that he would rather sell the team instead of fighting the lawsuit in court. According to Ian Thomas of the Sports Business Daily, the Haslam’s will be part of a group that will keep the Crew in Columbus.
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Haslam being a part of the group purchasing the Crew is interesting. Since Haslam has been the owner of the Cleveland Browns, he has attempted to build a bigger Browns fan base in Columbus. Him helping keep the Crew in Columbus could help him do just that.
Columbus is is not solely a Browns town. Columbus is a central point between Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Due to its location, there is a combination of Browns, Bengals, and Steelers fans.
In 2016, Haslam and the Browns organization were attempting to move most of their training camp to Columbus. The plan was to hold the first Browns training camp in Columbus before the 2018 season, but the Browns ultimately decided to back out of the plan.
In order for the Browns to hold training camp in Columbus, the city would have needed to build a location for the camp. The plan discussed in 2016 was to build a recreation center in Columbus, with the city paying $15 million of the bill, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Now that the Colmubus Crew have new owners, Thomas reported that there are already plans for a new stadium and site for the MLS team. That facility could be exactly what Haslam needs to move a part of the Browns training camp to Columbus in the future. For as big of a market that Columbus is, it could pay off big for Haslam if he can build a bigger fan base in the city.
By holding Browns events in the city, Haslam would be able to tap into a different market to continue to build the Browns fan base. In 2015 and 2016, the Browns held their annual Brown and Orange scrimmage at Ohio Stadium, the home of the Ohio State Buckeye football team. The events drew thousands of fans to the scrimmages.
Tom Reed of The Athletic reported on Friday that there is currently no plan to move Browns training camp to Columbus, yet. But once the purchase of the Crew is official and plans for a new stadium can get finalized, more details about Browns events would likely appear.
With how much the Browns have tried to hold more events in Columbus over the past few years, it is likely a part of the reason that Haslam will be a part of the new Crew ownership. It may take a couple of years before the Browns are spending a lot of time in Columbus, but the plan could already be in motion to create a bigger Browns footprint in the city of Columbus.
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