Word began surfacing on Wednesday that Mike Brown and "The Family" were closing in on a deal that would give them an additional 30% stake in the Cincinnati Bengals previously owned by Austin Knowlton through his estate. Soon after, Bengals president Mike Brown offered that "the club will have something to say" whenever there was something to say. Forbes initially reported that the Brown family was offering $200 million for the remaining shares. The Cincinnati Bengals announced that the deal was completed on Friday.
The estate of Mr. Knowlton had previously reached terms to sell its 176 shares to investors in New York, but through a right to match such terms, the Bengals will remain with the existing ownership group. Forbes Magazine reported on Thursday that the Brown family bought the shares for $200 million. With the sale, the Brown family owns all but a handful of the approximately 586 shares in the club.
The outstanding shares are owned by the family of Dr. Edison Miyawaki and by attorney Charles Lindberg, who is a trustee of the Knowlton estate. Lindberg owns one share.
Brown offered a blanket statement afterwards:
"We are proud to be the owners of the NFL’s Cincinnati franchise," Brown said in a statement. "We are committed to steps that will continue the Bengals as an asset for Greater Cincinnati."
That of course doesn’t mean that some won’t completely redirect the story into a completely different atmosphere. Case in point Mike Florio’s headline at Pro Football Talk that completely conjectures out of left field that, "Mike Brown says he’s ‘committed’ to keeping the Bengals in Cincinnati".
But the most intriguing line of the team-issued release was the last one.
"We are proud to be the owners of the NFL’s Cincinnati franchise," Mike Brown said, on behalf of the Brown family. "We are committed to steps that will continue the Bengals as an asset for Greater Cincinnati."
That Brown would even mention keeping the team in "Greater Cincinnati" implies the existence of a possibility that the team would leave "Greater Cincinnati." It’s a possibility that has never been seriously mentioned, especially since the team plays in a fairly new stadium for which the taxpayers of "Greater Cincinnati" footed most if not all of the bill.
Even if Mike Brown were hinting at something more manipulative than what’s on the surface, there’s been no hints to suggest Brown has any intention of moving out of the city and that it’s nothing more than fabricated assumptions based on a standard press release. Let’s call it a non-issue at this point and all that really applies is that the Brown family purchases all but a handful of their own shares on Friday for $200 million.