Council approves $3.4M for Cleveland Browns Stadium repairs

The Browns’ lease with the city of Cleveland expires in 2028. While the city and team look ahead, Cleveland Browns Stadium is in need of repairs.

CLEVELAND — Amid ongoing discussions between the Browns and the city of Cleveland on the future of the stadium, Cleveland City Council on Wednesday approved just under $3.5 million in funds for current needs at the aging facility. 

The 30-year lease between the city of Cleveland and the Browns includes a capital audit every five years, with the last one having taken place in 2018. City of Cleveland Capital Projects Director James DeRosa says repairs are needed to maintain the structure of Browns Stadium and preserve its usefulness.

“One is emergency repairs as defined by the lease,” DeRosa explained to the Cleveland City Council’s Committee of the Whole. “There’s two of those, which are pedestrian ramp replacements and gutter replacements. Then, there’s material capital repairs as defined by the lease, which basically means it’s a capital repair, but not an emergency. That would include one item, which is room air conditioning.”

The city says millions of dollars will come from the “Stadium Repair Fund,” which DeRosa says is funded by ticket sales taxes and surcharges.

But in the meantime, Cleveland City Council has questions. During Wednesday’s meeting, Councilman Mike Polensek asked DeRosa if the Browns contribute anything to the repair fund.

“The Browns do not contribute to this list of repairs,” DeRosa stated. “But there’s a whole laundry list of other things the Browns fund without any contribution from the city.”

Councilwoman Stephanie Howse asked which contractors are being hired to do the repairs to the stadium. “Charity is cool, but real partnerships in economics, that is the standard that we should be setting in the city of Cleveland,” she said. 

The million dollar fixes to Cleveland Browns Stadium aren’t that unusual. In 2019, there were emergency repairs to fix the stadium’s automation system, which controls the lights. The following year, some of the funds were spent on pedestrian ramps, plumbing, and roofing repairs. In 2021, the fire alarm system at the stadium was upgraded, while last year, repairs were done on the gutters and more pedestrian ramps were added. 

The city of Cleveland says the Browns are being practical about what needs to be fixed, but with five years left on the lease to the stadium that opened in 1999, we may see more of these types of projects. 

Last month, Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam spoke to reporters during the team’s training camp practices in West Virginia. The duo are continuing to push towards remodeling Cleveland Browns Stadium as opposed to building a new facility.

“We’re really working hard with the city, the county, and the state to work out a plan to continue to develop and remodel our stadium on the lakefront,” Dee Haslam stated. “We’re working through it. It’s really complex. It’s really hard. A lot of details.”

While the Haslams did not rule out the possibility of finding a location elsewhere for a new stadium, they did make it clear that the Browns are not leaving the area. “These things take time,” Jimmy Haslam said. “The only thing Dee (Haslam) and I would say for sure is we’re not leaving Northeastern Ohio. That’s for sure. Our preference is to be on the lakefront, but we’ve gotta see how things play out.”

Previous Reporting:

https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/cleveland/cleveland-city-council-browns-stadium-repairs/95-a0733890-f7a1-408f-af68-cd9e81bf79a6 Council approves $3.4M for Cleveland Browns Stadium repairs

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