It wasn’t much new, but when your family business troubles are highlighted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal it’s not a good thing. The daily read of America’s CEOs outlined Jimmy Haslam’s troubles at Pilot Flying J last week, and it was enough to put Cleveland Browns fans in a dither. The line about being $4 billion in debt and having Pilot’s credit downgraded seemed to be the take-away in Cleveland media.
There was much speculation there that the Haslam family’s sale of the Smokies baseball team to Randy Boyd might mean financial trouble. Insiders locally say Jimmy Haslam wanted out of the Smokies because his extra-curricular focus is going to be on his recently purchased Browns football team. Boyd told the News Sentinel he had long discussed buying the team from Haslam and the discussion got serious well before the FBI/IRS raid on Pilot headquarters.
The sale prompted much comment on local news websites about the new owner bringing the Smokies back to downtown Knoxville, ignoring the fact that one of the owners of the Smokies (Bill Haslam) was mayor of Knoxville for eight years and it never came up.