Jimmy Haslam is
a billionaire, Randy Lerner is too. Collectively they own the Cleveland Browns NFL franchise, 70 percent and 30 percent respectively. The Browns just sold off the naming rights to the stadium, for the next 20-plus years, to the tune of more than $100 million; a stadium fully funded and maintained by the Cuyahoga County taxpayer.
As with a lot of government dealings, the team got an extremely favorable contract leasing the stadium. It is within their rights to sell out, but I have a problem with that.
Last I checked, the NFL imposes a salary cap limiting the total amount of money the team can pay in player salaries. So, an extra $6 million a year won't help them acquire more talent, say the way of the New York Yankees.
Anyway, my sympathies are not for the government, even as it appears to have wound up on the wrong side of the equation. If they were just handed the money there is no way of knowing where it might go. Instead, I feel for people of Cleveland whom have been failed, again.
They deserve to see actual, tangible benefits from this transaction. In my eyes, the team owes it to the community to pass along these funds for public welfare. The United Way is a favored civic organization of the NFL. It would make sense to me for the team to lead the way in building new community centers in Greater Cleveland with all or some of the money. It would be OK, too, if they are called Cleveland Browns Community Centers, lest we not forget how they came to be. First Energy also is culpable. Why not spend the $100 million on an endowment to the Akron public schools? I personally like the sound of a "First Energy Elementary."