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Cleveland: Leaders react to possible Browns sale

7:10 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Rumors had been circulating. But news that the sale of the Cleveland Browns could be coming soon shook up City Hall on what was a quiet Friday morning.

Mayor Frank Jackson said, "Our real concern was not about a private transaction. That's between business people. Our concern was whether or not the Browns would be in Cleveland."

City staff, lawyers and reporters scrambled to get refreshed on terms of the Browns Stadium lease.

It commits the team to playing games at Browns Stadium through 2029.

And later comments from Browns officials said relocating the team was and would not be part of any talks offered some reassurance.

Jackson said, "We're pretty secure in terms of the Browns remaining in Cleveland...Mayor White did a very good job."

Jackson and others at City Hall remember the traumatic struggle it took to force the NFL to agree to return a franchise to replace the original Browns that Art Modell moved to Baltimore.

Randy Lerner has owned the team since the passing of his father, Al Lerner. He has kept a relatively low profile.

Mike Polensek said, "Mr. Lerner, I think, has interests elsewhere. That's his right....All the owners need to be civic-minded and community engaged because as the community goes, so goes their fortune."

Councilman Zach Reed said the link between the community and the team had to be a factor in any negotiations and appreciated by any new owner.

"The Browns are part of Cleveland and we are part of the Browns," he said.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald also learned of the possible sale from the media and had the same initial concerns about any possible move.

He later spoke with Browns President Mike Holmgren

FitzGerald wants to make sure there is communication between a possible new owner the team and the county because of a likely future effort to extend the sin tax which paid to build the stadium

It expires in 41 months. And there is discussion about extending it to pay for future repairs at the homes of the Browns, Indians and Cavs. 


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