Feb 8, 2024 - Sports

Browns owners purchasing new land outside of Cleveland

A sky shot of Browns Stadium.

Downtown Browns. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Will they, or won't they? The question of whether the Browns will build a new stadium or renovate the current one has again taken center stage in Northeast Ohio.

Driving the news: Thursday morning, NEOtrans blog reported that Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have agreed to purchase 176 acres of land in Brook Park.

  • The site is roughly 1,000 feet from Cleveland Hopkins Airport and the former home of a Ford Motor Co. engine plant.

Why it matters: The move would take the Browns out of downtown Cleveland and could drastically change the city's Lakefront Master Plan, which calls for a land bridge that would connect downtown to land north of Browns Stadium.

Catch up fast: There has been speculation about the future of Browns Stadium for the past few years.

  • The team's 30-year lease at the city-owned stadium expires at the end of 2028.

Yes, but: In February 2023, Browns/Haslam Sports Group spokesperson Peter John-Baptiste said the team wasn't considering anything other than renovations to the current stadium.

What they're saying: On Thursday, John-Baptiste seemed to change his tune via a statement in response to NEOtrans' report:

  • "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 Bibb in analyzing the land bridge 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."

Meanwhile, just last month, Bibb called the future between the city and Browns "bright" during a press conference announcing a stadium concert featuring Billy Joel and Rod Stewart.

  • "Those conversations are ongoing," Bibb said at the time. "But we're committed to making sure we have a world class facility right here in Cleveland, Ohio."

By the numbers: Estimates suggest a renovation of the current stadium could cost more than $1 billion, while construction of a new stadium — preferably domed — could run over $2 billion.

  • Bibb has said he is "no longer going to risk general new fund dollars for maintenance of a privately owned football franchise."

The bottom line: The Haslams could be purchasing the land in Brook Park for a new stadium or another endeavor.

  • If nothing else, it seems like a contingency plan should discussions with the city for renovations or a new stadium downtown fall through.
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