Cleveland just watched one of its pro sports teams change its name.
Now, another one of the city’s teams could be seeing a change soon.
Reports indicate the Cleveland Browns are looking at sites for a new stadium in the downtown area.
.@Browns leaning toward new stadium
Haslams consider two stadium siteshttps://t.co/bMU3xmKtXU@CityofCleveland @nfl @SportsBoyTony @KenCarman @DowntownCLE @GCPartnership @TheCLE @happyincle @TeamNEO @CleDevAdvisors @dtCLEresidents @NOhioNAIOP @ClevelandULI pic.twitter.com/NVjtaxFWhZ
— NEOtrans-blog (@NeotransB) June 18, 2022
Why a New Stadium?
First Energy Stadium has stood on the lakefront since 1999 when the Browns returned to the NFL.
That’s not young, but not old either in terms of the age of stadiums around the league.
20 teams have newer stadiums than the Browns.
Per sources from the neo-trans.blog, Jimmy and Dee Haslam are looking to upgrade.
“The sources said that the Haslams are not happy with the condition of the existing stadium and how poorly it is aging”, the neo-trans.blogarticle describes. “Furthermore, the sources contend that the stadium was poorly built and the expense necessary to rebuild and add a roof to it approaches the cost of a new stadium”.
Back in December of 2020, Cleveland City Council unanimously approved the decision to allocate $12 million to the stadium for repairs.
Those fixes included plumbing, electrical work, and new pedestrian ramps.
The recommendations for these repairs came from a capital repair audit.
In that report, First Energy Stadium was described as being “in good condition, considering its age and harsh climate.”
So, either that report gave the facility the benefit of the doubt, or the Haslam’s have seen some rapid structural decline in the past two years.
Regardless, if Jimmy and Dee want a new stadium, you better believe they’ll push hard for it.
There are some items to attend to before the Haslams commit to a stadium project.
With the current stadium’s lease in place through 2028, there’s time for these things to happen.
The first is the construction of a land bridge to run over the lakefront railroad tracks.
The cost is estimated at $200 million.
The bridge would connect to key parts of downtown like Public Square and the Convention Center.
Plus, it’s square-like design would house a transportation center in the middle as well as a parking facility.
The other major project that would need to happen involves major change along the Shoreway.
The plan is to convert it into a boulevard that connects downtown and the lakefront.
Ideally, it’d become an area for more pedestrian and foot traffic.
This has the backing of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, among other supporters.
However, this would slow down traffic into the central business district immensely.
The Ohio Department of Transportation has their concerns and will be conducting a study to see whether this is beneficial or not.
A mock graphic of the project is pictured below.
New Potential Sites
So where exactly would a new stadium go?
One potential new site is where the Main Post Office currently is on Orange Avenue.
It’s a 565,000-square-foot facility that sits next to 48 empty acres of land owned by ODOT.
You’d be hard-pressed to find more open space than that near downtown.
The other proposal is for a stadium just east of the central business district downtown.
Sources of neo-trans.blog say it would be north of St. Clair and between E 13th and E 17th.
Obviously, pedestrian and foot traffic would take priority here as that area is right in the thick of things downtown.
However, it could open up possibilities to more housing and hotel development.
Another mock graphic can be found pictured below.
Fans aren’t over the moon with the idea of a new stadium yet.
Many question whether the current facility is truly in bad enough condition to justify building a new one.
First Energy Stadium isn’t even 25 years old. I don’t understand the infatuation with building a new one. #Browns
— BIGPLAY Blake (@BIGPLAYBlake) June 19, 2022
Again, the current stadium’s lease runs though 2028.
There won’t be any immediate action happening on this.
However, it’s certainly something worth keeping an eye on moving forward.