Over the last few years, the Cleveland sports world has crept into uncharted territory: success. In basketball, Lebron James brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first title; in baseball, Francisco Lindor carried the Cleveland Indians to a World Series; and in football, Baker Mayfield is winning games for the Cleveland Browns, ending the franchise’s previous winless streak. In the blink of an eye, Cleveland became Believeland.
Haslam Sports Group (HSG) Vice President and General Counsel Ted Tywang plays a key role in the region’s continued resurgence by helping ensure an era of sustained success, economic prosperity, and social impact through the HSG sports holdings. HSG is the umbrella group that owns the Cleveland Browns and, as of a recent acquisition, operates the Columbus Crew.
“I was lucky to land in a city like Cleveland,” Tywang says. He and his wife, Bridget, moved to the city in 2016, sight unseen, when the Browns offered Tywang a legal director position. Now with two Ohio-born daughters, Tywang reflects that 2016 not only marked a new era for Ohio sports but also for his family.
For Tywang to be lured away from Proskauer Rose—a top international law firm headquartered in New York with a high-profile, niche sports practice—ownership was critical. At the core of Tywang’s desire to accept a role with the Browns was a lifelong itch to work in sports, but the Haslam family’s sound operation and upstanding values sealed the deal.
“I can’t imagine, ultimately, having better people to work for,” Tywang says. “Passionate, caring, involved, and empowering are a few words that pop into my head.”
Noting the Haslam family’s determination to do right by Ohio’s sports fans, Tywang credits them with an unrelenting will to win paired with an unyielding passion for making the greater Ohio community a better place. With heavy investment in education, youth sports, and social justice, HSG lends its ongoing support to local initiatives that are reshaping the region.
“I can’t imagine, ultimately, having better people to work for. Passionate, caring, involved, and empowering are a few words that pop into my head.”
Tywang’s role with HSG, a group that didn’t exist when the Browns originally hired him, is both exciting and challenging for the same reason: scope. He is responsible for all legal aspects of the business for both clubs, including, but not limited to, stadium deals, sponsorship and vendor agreements, employment, intellectual property, league and corporate governance issues, and government affairs.
Tywang credits the Browns’ Manager of Legal Affairs, Marikka Pretz-Anderson, who predated him by two seasons at the Browns, as critical to their department’s success: “Marikka is a tremendous asset to the organization and has a wealth of institutional knowledge. She makes me look good.”
Coming from Proskauer, which counts Major League Soccer (MLS) among its many sports industry clients, Tywang was well suited to spearhead the acquisition of the Columbus Crew by the Haslam family and their minority partner, the Columbus-based Edwards family. The first of MLS’s ten inaugural teams, the Crew formed in 1996 on the heels of the 1994 United States World Cup and the founding of MLS.
In 2018, the Crew was set to be shipped off to Austin, Texas, prompting a Save The Crew movement that captivated not only the state of Ohio but also soccer communities around the country. Relocation is a sensitive subject among Ohioans, who vividly recall when the Browns temporarily disbanded and moved to Baltimore in 1995.
“Those wounds, while they heal, never go away,” Tywang says. “Even though they weren’t the owners at the time, the Haslams know how important a sports team is to a community and how much it hurt to lose one.”
“For better or worse, people care so much about how we are doing, and it’s special to be a part of the community unity that the Browns provide.”
The Haslams—motivated by this civic component as well as MLS trends, the Columbus market, and the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will return to North America and be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico, and Canada—decided to step in to keep the Crew in Columbus. Tywang helped execute the transaction.
“It was a few different deals in one because it was such a complex project with so many moving pieces,” Tywang says, emphasizing the difficulty of putting together a public-private stadium, training facility, and community sports park deal along with a real estate acquisition and agreements with both MLS and the outgoing investor in the Crew. On the public stakeholders’ remarkable creativity and enthusiasm, Tywang says “working with the city, county, and the state on the stadium deal was an unbelievable experience.”
In connection with their acquisition of the Crew and expansion of their sports portfolio, the Haslams officially formed HSG. As a VP, Tywang serves on the executive team in a wide-ranging legal and business advisory role. With a mixed-use project in Columbus adjacent to the new Crew stadium, the recent extension of the Browns’ training facility lease, and the 2021 NFL draft in Cleveland, HSG and Tywang’s future is filled with invigorating new ventures. None, perhaps, more so than the young and talented roster that the Browns now boast.
“I still pinch myself when I go on the field before game day,” says Tywang. “For better or worse, people care so much about how we are doing, and it’s special to be a part of the community unity that the Browns provide.”