The Cleveland Browns are reportedly exploring a future development concept that could include a FirstEnergy Stadium renovation, or a new facility.
It has been reported by ESPN that the Browns “have begun long-term discussions ” regarding a broader development initiative that could address the team’s stadium situation. As part of that plan, the team could either pursue a major FirstEnergy Stadium renovation or the construction of a new stadium that would anchor a development project.
Discussions appear to be in the very early stages, as any project would take years to come to together. The Browns reportedly plan to finish out their FirstEnergy Stadium lease that runs through 2029, and the team will have numerous variables to consider along the way, including funding for the project. Still, the team is offering some details about its interest, as Browns owner Dee Haslam indicated that this concept would see the organization factor more prominently into the development of Cleveland. More from ESPN:
The focus would have the Browns taking a larger role in the revival and development of Cleveland. The stadium draws interest, for good reason, but Haslam said the project is wider ranging, in part because she feels it’s time the team was part of Cleveland’s growth. Whether that means developing the area near the existing stadium while renovating it or a new facility in a different spot will be part of the discussion and study.
“The main thing is to start the conversation, at some point,” said Haslam, who agreed to the interview after ESPN learned of the talks. “I don’t know that we’re ready to start the conversation, but we are ready to get all the information we can about what’s possible.
“So 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.”
Art Modell moved the original Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season, and Cleveland Stadium was later demolished to clear the way for current FirstEnergy Stadium to be built on the same site. FirstEnergy Stadium originally opened as Cleveland Browns Stadium in 1999.
Image courtesy FirstEnergy Stadium.