CLEVELAND - Is a new stadium in the Browns' future?
The Cleveland Browns have begun long-term planning for a renovated stadium or a new facility at a different location downtown, ESPN reports.
But the team told fans not to get too far ahead of themselves. As of now, there are no renderings and no plan to pay for a new facility.
Owner Dee Haslam told ESPN she and the team are still in early stages of discussion, but they are excited to further lay out all of the possibilities for a project that could take a decade to come to life, a project the Browns hope will help them play a role in the redevelopment of Cleveland's lakefront.
The stadium, which underwent a $125 million renovation in 2015, has been a visible part of the development and revival of downtown as fans continue to cheer on the Browns.
But if a new stadium is really in Cleveland's future, one Browns fan said its not one the team deserves.
"They haven't really earned a new stadium," Browns fan Jason Mraz said.
But a spokesperson for the Browns said these discussions are bigger than a stadium. The project would factor in the city's growth, and the study could point discussions in two directions: develop an area near the stadium or build a new facility in a different spot.
Haslam told ESPN that the Browns have spoken informally to city officials and civic leaders about the idea.
"It would probably be good for the city, probably bring in some money," said Cleveland resident Dashaun Walseon.
The timing of these conversations makes sense. The team will complete its lease at FirstEnergy Stadium in 2029. By that time, the stadium will be 30 years old.
With Browns wins at FirstEnergy stadium nearly impossible to come by these days, snagging a seat at a game is a lot easier to do. Attendance since 2013 is down nearly 11 percent. New construction or renovations could spur attendance growth, according to Wells Fargo. The bank said most teams see a boost within the first two years of stadium renovations.
The following statement was released by a Browns spokesperson on conversations about potential future development:
It is one of our top priorities to identify opportunities where we can positively impact Northeast Ohio, and we recognize that we must be forward thinking when considering potential ways to achieve that goal. We are acutely aware of the previous and ongoing discussions related to potential lakefront development, and we feel it is our civic responsibility to help identify productive solutions for the future of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. We have just begun this process and will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with the leaders in Northeast Ohio while collaborating to determine the best options moving forward.