USA: Confusion over new Cleveland Browns venue

source:; author: Rafał Dadura

USA: Confusion over new Cleveland Browns venue First, it was reported that the NFL's Cleveland Browns were preparing to build a new venue. Then, it turned out that the construction of the stadium might be subsidised by the city, but its location might change. And now ... things got even more complicated.


A new stadium with city funding? Not so fast!

Let's start at the beginning: Local media in Cleveland reported that the local team Browns, who play in the NFL, were consulting on a feasibility study to get an idea of whether building a new arena was viable for them. Later, it was reported that the franchise was already in preliminary talks with the Cleveland authorities about a new facility and possible funding. 

According to “sources close to the team's owners”, they would be willing to build a covered stadium at a cost of more than $1bn. They would also like to move from the suburbs to almost downtown Cleveland if it would help them secure funding from the city budget.

FirstEnergy Stadium© Erik Holmberg

However, the Cleveland authorities were quick to declare that this year's budget would still be $62 million in minus, and that any new spending was simply not going to happen. It will also be difficult to find significant sums of money just to exclusively subsidise the stadium in the near future.

And then, a day later,the Cleveland Browns officials dismissed reports that they were about to build a new stadium: Contrary to recent speculation, a recent feasibility study we launched does not contemplate a new stadium or showcase new stadium site. The premise of the study is a significant stadium renovation at our current site - their statement proclaims.

Out of the initial chaos, a clear plan has emerged

Meanwhile, Cleveland residents and especially Browns fans are wondering what the fuss is all about. Perhaps all the confusion is simply the fault of the media, which rushed to publish inaccurate information. Or perhaps there is indeed something to it, but the city or the team have decided to disassociate themselves from the news for fear of unfavourable reactions. After all, it’s easy to see that, with the city's budget running out of money, subsidising the expensive whims of the millionaire owners of the Cleveland Browns could be a PR disaster, for everyone involved.

FirstEnergy Stadium© cwp

Either way, the case now seems clear: Browns officials have stressed that, after a thorough cost analysis, it has become clear that renovating the existing FirstEnergy Stadium and adding a retractable roof to it would cost essentially the same as building a completely new venue.

This is a much more realistic prospect, especially as the Browns would still be able to secure the funding from the city, but as part of a wider collaboration on a project to renovate the area around the stadium. Plans include improving accessibility to the Lake Erie waterfront on which FirstEnergy Stadium stands, and creating a total of 365 projects that would include new public parks, as well as retail, office and residential buildings. 

To kill two birds with one stone

Should these plans come to fruition, everyone would benefit. The city could, as part of the already planned project to revitalise the area around the stadium (for which, in addition, funds have already been secured), extend it slightly and subsidise the renovation of the arena. The cost of the project would of course go up, but the current venue would gain a roof and the whole thing would look decidedly better in PR terms. The Browns would also have reason to be happy - they would be playing in a renovated stadium with retractable roof and they wouldn’t have to pay for all of it themselves.