Looking for a solution.
In the world of it is never too early to plan ahead, there is some discussion going on in Cleveland about the future of the National Football League’s Browns franchise and what will Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam do as his lease to use the city owned stadium expires in 2029. In 2018, there was an ESPN report that Haslam was thinking about building a stadium that would eventually replace the Browns stadium that opened in 1999. Stadiums and arenas seem to become obsolete within two decades of opening. The Cleveland stadium underwent a facelift in 2015 just sixteen years after its doors opened with a combination of Haslam and taxpayer money. Haslam inherited a deal with the city that was signed by the Browns’ Lerner family ownership group when it was awarded an NFL expansion franchise in 1996. Haslam bought the NFL team in 2012. The Lerner-Cleveland lease agreement included a provision that the city had to keep the stadium competitive and comparable and within the top echelons of the league.
The Cleveland stadium is on the Lake Erie waterfront along with the nearby arena that houses the National Basketball Association’s Cavaliers and the nearby Indians Major League Baseball stadium. All the facilities were built in the 1990s with taxpayers’ money. The arena has been renovated using a combination of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and taxpayers’ money. The Cleveland Indians ownership lease with the city ends in 2023. The three facilities were funded by a so-called sin-tax which included hiking sales tax on tobacco and alcohol products. That revenue stream is no longer available for stadium and arena upgrades. It is thought that Indians ownership will want significant upgrades to the ballpark as part of extending the lease. Where will the public money needed to upgrade or build new facilities come from? That is question one.