The Cleveland Browns NFL franchise has insisted that its focus is on renovating FirstEnergy Stadium following a report that it had identified at least two sites to build a potential new home.
The NEOtrans blog, citing sources close to the Browns and Haslam Sports Group, reported that the Browns had identified a site currently occupied by Cleveland’s Main Post Office and another site east of downtown Cleveland’s central business district as potential spots for a new stadium.
NEOtrans said that the team’s owners, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, believe the costs involved with renovating FirstEnergy Stadium would approach the cost of a new stadium, which would reportedly set the team back more than $1bn (£813m/€947m).
The report came after the Haslams said in March that they were exploring options to either upgrade FirstEnergy Stadium or develop a new home in Cleveland.
The Browns have now moved to clarify the team’s position on a new stadium, stating that renovating FirstEnergy Stadium is the priority.
In a statement reported by the Profootballtalk website, the Browns said: “As we have consistently communicated, along with the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and other prominent local organisations, 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 a 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 centred 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 organisation looks forward to continuing to work with our community partners and leaders to identify next steps and our role in helping advance this initiative.”
The Haslams have previously said that the Browns’ stadium options would depend on how the City of Cleveland progresses with plans to renovate the lakefront site on which FirstEnergy Stadium sits. The Browns have previously backed the City’s vision to enhance connectivity between the downtown area and lakefront.
FirstEnergy Stadium opened in 1999 and the Browns’ lease deal to play at the stadium expires after the 2028 NFL season.