It appears Jimmy Haslam could be looking to expand his footprint in the sports world.
Haslam and his wife, Dee, have owned the Cleveland Browns since 2012 and Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC since 2019.
Two unnamed sources told the sports business website Sportico that Haslam is exploring a bid to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, in a statement to Sportico and WKYC in Cleveland, the Haslam Group denied it was actively trying to purchase the Timberwolves.
“Haslam Sports Group is regularly evaluating potential investment opportunities in sports and entertainment but any speculation about us currently being in the process of pursuing that investment would be inaccurate,” the statement said.
In July, Sportico reported that current Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor had retained The Raine Group to sell the NBA franchise he’s owned since 1994.
Taylor is seeking at least $1.2 billion for the franchise, Sportico reported.
Forbes conducts an annual valuation of each of the NBA’s 30 teams.
In February, Forbes valued the Timberwolves at $1.375 billion, which ranked 28th in the league.
The New Orleans Pelicans ($1.35 billion) and the Memphis Grizzlies ($1.3 billion) are the only NBA teams with lower valuations, according to Forbes.
The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx are also a part of the sale.
The potential sale has apparently attracted the attention of former Timberwolves star forward, Kevin Garnett, who is part of another group pursuing the NBA franchise.
Sportico reported the Straus Group — the family office of former Memphis Grizzlies investor Daniel Straus — has also been linked to a potential purchase of the Timberwolves.
Before buying the Browns in 2012, Haslam was an investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The NFL prohibits ownership in multiple teams, so Haslam had to sell his interest in the Steelers.
Forbes estimates Haslam is worth $2.9 billion.
Haslam, 66, is the CEO of truck stop company Pilot Co., which used to be known as Pilot Flying J.
In April 2013, federal agents raided the Pilot headquarters as part of a fuel rebate fraud investigation.
The company ended up paying more than $100 million in fines and civil settlements.
Haslam was not charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
WBIR reported that Haslam would transition to a new role as a Pilot board chairman in January 2021, with Chief Strategy Officer Shameek Konar tapped to become the company’s new CEO.
Several people own multiple teams in major North American sports leagues, including:
- Stan Kroenke: Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche
- Ted Leonsis: Washington Wizard and Washington Capitals
- Terry Pegula: Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres
- Jim Dolan: New York Knicks and New York Rangers
- Jerry Reinsdorf: Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox
The Browns have not had a winning season since Haslam officially bought the Browns about midway through the 2012 season.
The 2014 season marked the Browns’ best season under Haslam, in which the team finished 7-9.
In 2019, the Browns finished with a 6-10 record.
The team is seeking to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
It marks the longest active playoff drought in the NFL and the second-longest in North American professional sports.