[In the player above, the FOX 8 I-Team questions who will be footing the bill for a major renovation of FirstEnergy Stadium.]
CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam on Monday said they’re “committed” to a major renovation of FirstEnergy Stadium within the city’s plans for waterfront upgrades — but they likely won’t happen for several years.
The statement backs up what the FOX 8 I-Team reported last week: There aren’t any plans for a new stadium. Instead, the vision is for major renovations tied to the city’s waterfront development.
“Cleveland would benefit tremendously from the development of the waterfront,” Jimmy Haslam is quoted in a Tuesday article on the team’s website. “Having the stadium down there seems to be in everybody’s best interest, so we’re committed to redoing the stadium. In all likelihood, it’s not going to have a dome, but it’ll be a substantial remodel of the existing facility, and we’re probably three, four, five years away from that happening.”
A plan to revamp the city’s waterfront properties based on community feedback is expected to be developed by the end of the year. Then the Haslams will consider upgrades for the stadium, which has been the Browns’ home turf since 1999.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure that has to go into connecting downtown, which is the first thing that has to happen,” Haslam is quoted in the Tuesday article. “We’ve got to connect downtown to the waterfront, right? Everybody knows that. So you’ve got to relocate the highway … I do think the city, the county and the state are working together well, but there’s a lot of hoops to jump through.”
The FOX 8 I-Team last week questioned who would end up paying for major stadium upgrades. Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne last week told the I-Team taxpayer dollars have not yet been requested for the project.
“My instinct? This is only instinct, is that No. 1: A team has to go deep in its own financing. And, two, if there’s any public financing, there’s got to be broad participation. It’s something for the state of Ohio to discuss,” Ronayne said last week.
Though the stadium is owned by the city, a city hall representative was not made available to discuss funding for the stadium upgrades.
A statement from Haslam Sports Group reads:
As we have consistently communicated, along with the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and other prominent local organizations, 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 centered on an extensive land bridge.Haslam Sports Group