Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam Negotiating to Buy MLS' Columbus Crew

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is seen before the game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is part of a group attempting to buy MLS club Columbus Crew SC, ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle reported Friday.

According to Carlisle, Haslam is partnering with Columbus-based businessman Pete Edwards to purchase the franchise from Anthony Precourt.

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl first reported in October 2017 that Precourt planned to move the Crew to Austin, Texas, if the city of Columbus was unable to come to an agreement on a new downtown stadium for the franchise.

In March, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the city of Columbus filed a lawsuit against Precourt Sports Ventures, alleging it was in violation of a law instituted after Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, Maryland.

Under the law, a team must "either receive permission or else give six months’ notice and offer locals an opportunity to purchase the team before moving" if it receives public money to operate, per the Columbus Dispatch's Andrew Erickson.

With the litigation ongoing, Precourt shared in August the proposed branding and stadium plans for an Austin MLS franchise.

Planet Fútbol @si_soccer

Anthony Precourt unveiled what MLS in Austin would look like should the relocation of the Columbus Crew come to fruition. Take a look at Austin FC https://t.co/DVSoVgsGZv https://t.co/5RQbjZLkjP

That same month, the city of Austin voted in favor of negotiating the details toward a new stadium on city-owned land.

Carlisle noted the deal for Haslam and Edwards to buy the Crew has yet to be finalized. However, the group would plan to keep the Crew structure in place in Columbus, with Precourt receiving the rights to an expansion franchise in Austin.