The Dolan family is hoping to put a competitive and "socially responsible"
team on the football field if they are granted ownership of the Cleveland Browns.
Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman and CEO Charles Dolan
and his brother, Larry, along with comedian Bill Cosby, promised to put together a
"winning team," with role models that the city and the sport can be proud of.
The partnership is one of several that are expected to bid for the rights to the expansion
Browns National Football League team, which is set to debut in the 1999 season -- three
years after Art Modell, owner of the original Cleveland Browns, moved the franchise to
"We want to put together a winning football
team," Larry Dolan said.
He added that he wants the team, from administrators to
athletes, to be made up of the best-qualified people, regardless of color or gender.
Professional-sports leagues in general, and the NFL in particular, have come under fire
recently for not hiring enough minorities in high, decision-making positions.
Larry Dolan, however, denied that having Cosby, an
African-American, as part-owner is a token gesture to the league.
"We just want a socially responsible team, and we want
our athletes to be good role models for the community," Larry Dolan said
While it was unclear how much the franchise would cost --
estimates run anywhere from $300 million to $1 billion -- Larry Dolan, a native Cleveland
resident, said the investors "are prepared to bid the value of the team. The winning
bid should be a strong, responsible bid brought about by Clevelanders."
Under the proposed deal, Larry and Charles Dolan would each
own 30 percent interests in the team, and a Dolan family trust would own 30 percent. Cosby
would own 5 percent, and the remaining 5 percent would held for other potential investors.
If successful, Charles Dolan said, the Browns would receive
unprecedented coverage on cable through Cablevision's owned-and-operated Cleveland
system, as well as via Fox Sports Ohio. Such coverage would include distribution of Browns
games via high-definition television once the local-broadcast stations carrying the games
are able to deliver the signal.
"Cablevision will provide a new level of coverage [for
the Browns]," he said.
Concerning the potential of a competitive football league
developed by Time Warner Inc. and NBC, Charles Dolan said he's committed to working
with the NFL.
"We know the people at NBC and Time Warner, and [the
proposed league] needs to be regarded very seriously," he said.