The Cleveland Browns NFL team has confirmed that discussions have commenced regarding renovation work at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The stadium opened in 1999 and the Browns’ lease deal to play at the venue expires after the 2028 NFL season.
In June last year, the Browns insisted that the team’s focus was on renovating FirstEnergy Stadium following a report that it had identified at least two sites to build a potential new home.
The report claimed that the team’s owners, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, believe the cost of renovating FirstEnergy Stadium would approach the price of a new stadium, which would set the Browns back more than $1bn (£823m/€933m).
The Haslams had previously said they were exploring options to either upgrade FirstEnergy Stadium or develop a new stadium in Cleveland, but the Browns confirmed in June that improving the team’s current home was its priority.
The team said at the time that a feasibility study launched does not contemplate a new stadium or showcase new stadium sites, with a “significant” renovation of FirstEnergy Stadium forming the premise of the study.
The Browns have now confirmed to News 5 that discussions have commenced regarding the renovation work, although specific details are yet to be finalised.
The statement to News 5 said: “A Browns spokesperson confirmed that the team has had internal discussions about renovations of FirstEnergy Stadium and how it would fit into a broader vision for the lakefront. The team has made progress on a feasibility study launched last year but couldn’t provide any further details at this time.”
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.
Blaine Griffin, president of Cleveland City Council, called for talks between the city and the Browns to begin as soon as possible.
He told News 5: “The time is now to start having these conversations. We really need to make sure that the public understands why this investment is possibly needed. I think the more that we spend time on the front end educating the public on whether or not this is a good return on their investment it will go a long way.”