Owners of the Cleveland Browns have big plans on their minds when it comes to developing a new stadium as the home of their franchise.
The Cleveland Browns have initiated a long-term downtown development study that could include a substantially renovated stadium or a new facility at a different location in downtown Cleveland, according to ESPN’s Pat McManamon.
The development project announcement are the first on-record comments from Browns management about a possible new stadium.
McManamon did an interview with Browns co-owner Dee Haslem. She stated the organization is in the earliest stages of learning everything they can about a project that could take a decade or more to complete.
"“I think it’s really important to find out what’s possible. There could be a lot of great ideas that we might not be able to do because it’s not feasible for one reason or another. I don’t want to get the horse in front of the cart until we’re knowledgeable enough to know. Because we’re not informed enough to know right now. But we do know that we have a desire to make a bigger impact on the future of Cleveland.”"
The Browns front office will partner with Cleveland State University to complete an economic impact study. That study will guide city officials and Browns management on their options before its FirstEnergy Stadium lease expires in 2029. FirstEnergy Stadium, built in 1999, will be one of the league’s oldest facilities a decade from now.
The elephant in the room always comes down to who is going pay for all of this? Especially when new stadiums opening the last few years have had a price tag of $1 billion or more.
According to the piece, the Browns understand that questions will be asked about funding but because they don’t know what the development effort will or could be, they feel it’s premature to get into that discussion at this point. In 2015, the Browns completed a two-year renovation of FirstEnergy Stadium. The total cost was $125 million with the Browns picking up $95 million of that tab.
The Haslams received support on this project from David Gilbert, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. When asked about the project he stated:
"“I think it’s great that they are thinking. One, so far out, and two, really thinking broadly about the development of Cleveland. I think that this approach of thinking very far out and thinking how sports can play a real role in the development of a community, in the physical development. I think it’s great and speaks a lot to their commitment to Cleveland.”"
The Browns ultimately will have two options. Renovate the stadium they currently have with a whole new look and feel. In addition to possibly adding a roof or dome. Or they build a completely new stadium that will open a giant can of worms. The organization and city will need time to evaluate all their options while (hopefully) putting winning product on the field.
If the team is winning, it’s easier to sell city officials, fans and tax payers on a new stadium endeavor.