The Browns aren’t the only sports team owned by Jimmy Haslam.
Haslam and other members of his family are part of the ownership group that controls the Tennessee Smokies, a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, but they are looking to get out of the minor league baseball business. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Haslam and company are planning to sell the team to another local businessman, a move that probably wouldn’t have drawn much attention if not for the ongoing drama at Pilot Flying J.
That’s the chain of truck stops that the Haslam family founded and still owns and which is facing a federal fraud investigation that has already led to five guilty pleas from employees of the company. Haslam insists that the move to sell the baseball team has nothing to do with that investigation and that Browns fans have “absolutely zero to worry about” as a result of any transaction with the Smokies.
“It does have something to do with Cleveland in that we’re obviously going to be spending more time there,” Haslam said. “But I think the reality is the entire partnership group had owned the team for 12 years and felt like it was time for new ownership.”
That may be the case, but the backdrop of the investigation into Haslam’s main business means that there’s going to be extra attention paid to dealings in his other concerns until he’s free and clear of potential prosecution.