Now that Haslam Sports Group is making a move into Pro Basketball, there may be implications for the Cleveland Browns down the road.
Haslam Sports Group, rumored for weeks to be in negotiations to purchase 25% of the Milwaukee Bucks, finally closed the deal day according to multiple AP sources. The purchase price is estimated by the AP at $875 million, corresponding to a total valuation of $3.5 billion. The Bucks deal is not tied to the ownership of theCleveland Browns in any way, but as a practical matter, one wonders how a family living in Knoxville, Tennessee will be able to commute to Columbus, Cleveland and now Milwaukee Wisconsin to see so many sporting events.
Will the Haslams ever become majority owners of an NBA team? They are halfway there already. Perhaps it would be fair to say that the Haslams would rather bet big on winning a Super Bowl and risk a major loss, rather than play it safe and turn in a .500 record year after year. That's the basic philosophy behind the Deshaun Watson gamble. However, if it doesn't work out, they might elect to give themselves the option to become a basketball family.
In football, the Haslams were minority owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers for several years, establishing themselves within the ownership community before making a move to become majority owners of the Browns. Perhaps this same pattern could be repeated with the NBA.
With the FirstEnergy Stadium lease running out after 2028, that might be an opportune time to sell. There will be no shortage of potential suitors from other potential NFL cities in the US as well as overseas, so the City of Cleveland had better have something good to induce Haslam Sports Group to either stay put or at least find a way to keep the Browns in Cleveland for another generation.