For the past 23 years, the Cleveland Browns have called FirstEnergy Stadium home, but they may only be there for a few more seasons. The franchise is seeking a new $1 billion stadium as part of a lakefront redevelopment project in the city, according to a report from cleveland.com through NEOtrans.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, according to NEOtrans, want a covered stadium and are willing to relocate downtown to obtain it. The stadium would be subsidized by the government. The Browns have yet to respond on the report, either confirming or denying it. According to Browns senior vice president of communications Peter John-Baptiste, the team is undertaking “feasibility studies on what a new stadium could look like,” with the results expected by next year. He suggested that instead of looking for a new home, the team might renovate FirstEnergy Stadium.
When the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 after a three-year sabbatical — when the original Browns relocated to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Ravens — FirstEnergy Stadium was finished. The stadium, which cost $283 million to build, is the NFL’s 12th-oldest.
The last time the Browns faced a challenge of a new stadium in 1995, former owner Art Modell stunned the NFL world by relocating the long-standing franchise to football-craved Baltimore — who lost the Colts 12-years earlier in 1983. Cleveland mayor Mike White and city attorney Fred Nance were working on a $175 million makeover of the outdated Municipal Stadium when Modell halted talks. Modell refused to negotiate until after the 1995 season, but announced the franchise’s relocation in November of that year.
Modell won the rights to move the team to Baltimore, and the city succeeded to keep the franchise’s history, name and colors in Cleveland. The Browns were promised a new club in three years by the NFL, and the “new” Browns were founded in 1999.
If the Browns get a new stadium, it would only be the third stadium in the team’s history. Cleveland played at Municipal Stadium from its inception in 1946 until relocating in 1995.