Decoding the Cleveland Browns' Bullshit 228-Word Denial That They Want a New Billion-Dollar, Publicly Funded Stadium

click to enlarge The name remains even after the scandal - FIRSTENERGY/FLICKRCC
FirstEnergy/FlickrCC
The name remains even after the scandal

Monday, Browns Senior VP of Communications, Peter John-Baptiste, released a lengthy statement responding to a Friday report by Ken Prendergast of NEO Trans that the Browns were "leaning toward" constructing a new stadium, as opposed to renovating the current facility. Prendergast spoke with two anonymous sources, as is his custom for sensitive, breaking real estate development news, and reported that the team's owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, had two potential sites selected for the new stadium, and that it was likely to cost in excess of $1 billion.

Cleveland.com's Kaitlin Durbin followed up over the weekend, reporting that the alleged new stadium was likely to come "at significant taxpayer expense."  No kidding.

Here's the Browns word salad with all the fixins:
"As we have consistently communicated, along with the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and other prominent local organizations, we have been immersed in discussing ways to best approach the lakefront's future and the stadium naturally is a critical piece to the long-term execution of such a project. Contrary to recent speculation, a recent feasibility study we launched does not contemplate a new stadium or showcase new stadium sites. A significant stadium renovation at our current site is the premise of the study as well as the focus on how to provide accessibility to the lakefront, drive density and create 365- destination major development opportunities that would include new public parks, retail, office, experiential and residential spaces. The vision, as many in our community have already seen, is centered on an extensive land bridge. As we are just beginning the study, we certainly do not have enough information to determine the cost of renovating the stadium, or what the aesthetics of such a renovation would entail. We believe our study will help answer those questions and should be completed in 2023. The future of the stadium is one of several important pieces to the long-term execution of the lakefront project, and our organization looks forward to continuing to work with our community partners and leaders to identify next steps and our role in helping advance this initiative." 
Here's what we can glean from it:

As we have consistently communicated, along with the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and other prominent local organizations, we have been immersed in discussing ways to best approach the lakefront's future and the stadium naturally is a critical piece to the long-term execution of such a project.

The big thing out of the gate is to stress that the future of Cleveland's lakefront is VERY IMPORTANT, and readers would do well to trust only official sources from "prominent" organizations — you know, organizations like the famously forthcoming Cleveland Browns and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region's chamber of commerce.  (Obviously they've all been immersed in these discussions, but the Browns are not some passive participants. The whole lakefront development scheme is theirs!  Surely, one of the ways to "approach the lakefront's future" is to consider a new stadium, especially if the current site is deemed more profitable as a retail, residential and/or experiential zone.)

Contrary to recent speculation, a recent feasibility study we launched does not contemplate a new stadium or showcase new stadium sites.

Nice savvy PR straw-man move here! Prendergast's reporting said the Browns were leaning toward a new stadium based on info from his presumably knowledgeable sources, not based on the results of a feasibility study.  In fact, John-Baptiste himself told Prendergast that the team was in the midst of multiple ongoing feasibility studies. It sure would be awfully cute (though predictable) for the Browns to refute speculation because one of several recent studies didn't talk about a new stadium. lol. But even if there is only one study, and even if it doesn't technically contemplate a new stadium, it could still be the case that the Haslams are leaning toward one.   

A significant stadium renovation at our current site is the premise of the study as well as the focus on how to provide accessibility to the lakefront, drive density and create 365- destination major development opportunities that would include new public parks, retail, office, experiential and residential spaces. The vision, as many in our community have already seen, is centered on an extensive land bridge.

"Please pay no attention to the stadium or its price tag. Look at all this other stuff!"

As we are just beginning the study, we certainly do not have enough information to determine the cost of renovating the stadium, or what the aesthetics of such a renovation would entail.

"We are the only sources you should trust for reliable information on this project. Also, we have no information."

We believe our study will help answer those questions and should be completed in 2023.

"Fuck off for at least a year."

The future of the stadium is one of several important pieces to the long-term execution of the lakefront project, and our organization looks forward to continuing to work with our community partners and leaders to identify next steps and our role in helping advance this initiative.

"We're just trying to see where we fit into the larger picture, here. We're not much of a factor, honestly. Just a very small piece. Please do not delude yourself into thinking that the entire enterprise is designed to maximize profits for the Browns and the team's owners, or that, after the Cavs and Guardians both secured hundreds of millions of public dollars in recent 'deals', we are expecting to cash in as well. Don't be ridiculous."

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