We may have a new definition of chutzpah, courtesy of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam:
The Cleveland Browns and the Columbus business community want Greater Cleveland taxpayers to help pay $5 million for the Browns to move their training camp to a site on or near the Ohio State University campus…
The request from Columbus business leaders says the $5 million is to help pay for an “athletic practice training facility.”
It then describes the project this way: “The Athletic Practice and Training Facility will serve as a backdrop for collegiate athletic teams and community youth programs to utilize throughout the year. It will also attract professional athletic teams and franchises to our region.”
Translated: We’re going to disguise this as a tax request to help kids, but it’s really about the Browns.
The request was actually from the Columbus Partnership, a local business group, which submitted it as part of a list of funding requests for the state’s capital budget. (I know what you’re thinking: My state never asks me what I want its capital budget spent on! Yes, but you do not have the awesome clout and political mandate of the Columbus, Ohio business community.) Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Brent Larkin says that “the funds are being sought with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s knowledge and approval,” though he doesn’t cite a source for that other than that Haslam has been talking to Columbus about moving his team’s training camp there.
The gross part here, really, is that the state of Ohio would be paying to move a business operation from one part of the state — the Cleveland suburb of Berea, which has already spent $25 million on the Browns’ current training camp — to another. The economic war among the states is bad enough without the states themselves encouraging in-state skirmishes.