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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Browns Table Talks of New Stadium, Focused on Updating FirstEnergy and Improving Pedestrian Access

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 2:23 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIK DROST FLICKR CC
  • Photo by Erik Drost Flickr CC

The internet might be almost exclusively focused on one bit of Browns news that emerged yesterday — the team, not surprisingly, is redoing the uniforms once again with the new duds set to debut in 2020 — but more important than that laundry bulletin is the update on where the Browns stand stadium-wise.

Remember, it was just last year when ESPN reported that the Haslams were in early, fact-finding conversations with the city and county about the possible options on the table regarding the current and future facility that hosts some 12 events a year. Dee Haslam had said at the time that they were intimately interested in the development portion of the idea — translation: parking lots — but had nothing firm in mind beyond the fact that the stadium, which was hurriedly built to welcome the expansion Browns and which has never been considered one of the league's gems, continues to age.



The footprint of the current stadium, locked in by the port and the lake and largely separated from the rest of downtown, makes any ambitious development problematic. On the other side of the public subsidy coin, there just aren't many vacant or ready to be developed areas in downtown that could feasibly serve as the site of a new construction (setting aside for a minute any debate or conjecture about who would pay for a $1 billion new stadium).

Less than a year later, there's nothing firm for the Haslams to share except that it seems a new stadium is completely off the table after discussions with the city and county, which Dee Haslam is leading, have progressed. That comes from their chat with Cleveland.com:

“We think the best thing for Cleveland is to stay where we are,’’ said Dee. “We feel like this is the best place for us.’’

[snip]

“We’ll make improvements to the stadium,” she said. “We ask a lot of people about what they think we should do to the stadium and we’ll just continue to update it and make it the best possible place it can be. It has its limitations, right? But I think the location and kind of who Cleveland is, if we can develop around there and make it easily accessible to the city, I think the No. 1 thing we’ve got to do is make it easier to get to our stadium.”
What about slapping a dome on the thing, you might and probably will ask.

Not only is that sort of undertaking going to take a more than a few Odell Beckham-sized piles of money to fund, but Dee seemed down on the idea, according to Mary Kay Cabot.

Whatever the upgrades look like, separate from pedestrian bridges or perhaps a landbridge, just remember that the sin tax funds have been rapidly depleted and major capital projects by teams might have to be self-funded.

In theory at least.

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