The Cleveland Browns have said they are “methodically looking at every possibility” amid a report the NFL franchise has a deal in place to acquire a parcel of land outside of the city that could house a new stadium.
The Browns and the City of Cleveland have both responded following the report by NEOtrans. The real estate blog said yesterday (Thursday), citing three sources, that the Brown’s ownership body, Haslam Sports Group, has a contract to acquire a 176-acre parcel of land in Brook Park, located around nine miles southwest of Downtown Cleveland.
It remains to be seen what the team’s intentions are for the site, but Brook Park has previously been mentioned as a potential location for a new stadium. The Browns’ current lease at Cleveland Browns Stadium is due to expire following the 2028 NFL season and talks have been taking place with the City over a redevelopment project.
The Browns have called the 67,431-seat stadium home since it opened in 1999 and a cost-sharing deal would be needed for a mooted near-$1bn (£793.1m/€928.6m) revamp. A team statement read: “We’ve been clear on how complex future stadium planning can be. One certainty is our commitment to greatly improving our fan experience while also creating a transformative and lasting impact to benefit all of Northeast Ohio.
“We understand the magnitude of opportunity with a stadium project intent on driving more large-scale events to our region and are methodically looking at every possibility. We appreciate the collaborative process with the City of Cleveland and the leadership of Mayor (Justin) Bibb in analysing the landbridge and renovating the current stadium.
“At the same time, as part of our comprehensive planning efforts, we are also studying other potential stadium options in Northeast Ohio at various additional sites. There is still plenty of work to do and diligence to process before a long term stadium solution is determined and will share further updates at the appropriate time.”
In March, the Browns confirmed that discussions had commenced regarding renovation work at Cleveland Browns Stadium. In June 2022, the Browns insisted that the team’s focus was on renovating the stadium following a report that it had identified at least two sites to build a potential new home.
Commenting on the latest reports, Bradford Davy, City of Cleveland chief of staff, told the Akron Beacon Journal: “Keeping the Browns at home on the downtown Cleveland lakefront is a priority for Mayor Bibb and city leadership. We understand and respect how complex this process is and appreciate the partnership we’ve had and will continue to have with the Browns and Haslam Sports Group.
“The administration has developed a strong, thoughtful and comprehensive package that we believe respects taxpayers and protects the city’s general revenue fund while meeting the needs expressed by the team.
“This has been shared with the HSG team during our extensive negotiations over the last eight months. We continue to meet with their team to refine our teams and come to a shared vision and acceptable deal for both parties that improves the experience for residents, sports fans and visitors.
“The experience of Cleveland residents and visitors to our city is top of mind for us and we are committed to developing our North Coast Lakefront into a world-class, well-programmed, people-focused space and we see the activation of Browns Stadium as a key part of that vision.
“The mayor’s commitment to a vibrant shore-to-core-to-shoe plan for Cleveland is steadfast and gaining momentum. Downtown Cleveland is such an integral part of the game day experience and the transformational changes on the horizon promise to make that experience even better.”
NWSL stadium touted
In other news, plans are underway to build a new stadium in downtown Cleveland which is designed to attract a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) expansion franchise to the city.
Michael Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Cleveland Soccer Group, told Cleveland.com that the projected cost of a 12,000 to 13,000-seat facility would be $150m, split between team owners and state and local sources.
The Ohio House passed a $2bn appropriations bill on Wednesday which included $1m to explore such a project.