Jackson Administration, Cleveland Browns reach agreement to fund renovations of FirstEnergy Stadium

Agreement subject to Cleveland City Council approval

Pending City Council approval, the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Browns have reached an agreement regarding the renovations of city-owned FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cleveland Browns will invest $120 million toward improvements and capital repairs. Additionally, the team will continue to pay 100 percent of the operating and maintenance expenses to meet its obligations under the lease.

To support this significant investment, the City plans to commit $2 million a year for the next 15 years or $30 million from the City’s operating fund. This represents a present-day value of $22 million. These funds will help fulfill the City’s obligations outlined in the stadium lease for capital repairs and improvements. In addition, with $24 million remaining in the existing sin tax fund for future repairs, as part of the agreement, the City has granted the Browns the right to provide input on how $12 million of that money will be spent on specific infrastructure components, starting in 2016.

Jackson Administration, Cleveland Browns reach agreement to fund renovations of FirstEnergy Stadium

“This $120 million renovation is a result of wanting to create the best fan experience in the NFL for our fans and players, and also to create a venue to attract other world-class events at FirstEnergy Stadium,” said Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam. “We realize the transformative opportunity of this investment for the City of Cleveland and worked with Mayor Jackson to help minimize their costs and create the most productive agreement moving forward. We are excited to reward our fans and the community with the experience they deserve.”

“The city owns a very valuable asset in FirstEnergy Stadium and the proactive investment in it by Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns is significant,” conveyed Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Funding these renovations will protect and enhance the investments we have made in the stadium over the years and will strengthen Cleveland’s reputation as a destination city.” The Jackson Administration will submit legislation to Cleveland City Council for its review and consideration for passage. See the attached executive summary for additional details.

Details of the proposed renovations

During the first year of the proposed modernization, the Browns would install two new video boards nearly triple the size of the boards currently in each end zone, moving them closer to the fans. Throughout the stadium, the plan also calls for LED video boards, which would feature stats, scores and information, and installation of an entirely new audio system, delivering crisper, clearer audio everywhere in the facility.
In 2014, the project would also increase the lower bowl’s seating capacity while improving sightlines. Many Browns fans would be closer to the field and observe dramatically better views of the game, fostering a more intimate environment while enhancing the team’s home-field advantage.

Easing in-stadium access for fans and ensuring continued ADA compliance is another priority in the plan’s initial stage. Two new escalators would be installed in both the north and south end zones to ensure the most fluid, convenient movement in and between stadium levels. At the end of the proposed project, there would be 12 escalators providing access to stadium levels.
In 2015, the Browns are hoping to improve general-admission concession areas, boasting revamped and unique locally based offerings. Additionally, the second phase would modernize premium areas, including upgrading club seats and suites, while adding more top-level entertainment areas, and creating new hospitality and fan-engagement opportunities.

Also during the project’s second phase, new dramatic graphics honoring the Browns’ illustrious history and current players would be fashioned throughout the stadium and its concourses to improve the facility’s aesthetics. Plus, there would be a continued emphasis on offering the most up-to-date technology, with a heightened focus on providing reliable connectivity on all fan devices, and creative ways to use those devices in the stadium.
The plan received conceptual approval from the Cleveland Planning Commission on Friday, November 15, 2013.

Executive Summary
Repairs and Improvements at
FirstEnergy Stadium, Home of The Cleveland Browns
November 19, 2013

  • The Cleveland Browns agree to finance and make up to an estimated $120 million in repairs and improvements to the Stadium in two phases in 2014 and 2015, including professional fees and other soft costs.
  • To support this significant investment, the City plans to commit $2 million a year for the next 15 years or $30 million from the City’s operating fund. This represents a present-day value of $22 million. These funds will help fulfill the City’s obligations outlined in the stadium lease for capital repairs and improvements. In addition, with $24 million remaining in the existing sin tax fund for future repairs, as part of the agreement, the City has granted the Browns the right to provide input on how the $12 million will be spent on the following Capital Repairs, starting in 2016:
  1. Structural repairs, including painting the structural steel frame;
  2. Waterproofing/coating, including traffic coating on all ramps and concourse surfaces;
  3. Roof repairs and replacement;
  4. Escalator/elevator repair and replacement;
  5. Concrete/asphalt work, including crack, joint and spall repair;
  6. Lighting repair and replacement;
  7. Building system repairs and replacement for the following systems;
    (i) Plumbing,
    (ii) Electrical,
    (iii) HVAC, and
    (iv) Pump station
  8. Exterior facade cleaning; and
  9. Expansion joint replacement.
  • Annually commencing in 2015, the Cleveland Browns may propose these types of Capital Repairs to be made by the City from the proceeds of the $12 Million Deposit during the following construction season for so long as any remaining proceeds of the deposit exist.
  • After review, the City will determine whether the proposed work is a Capital Repair meeting one of the above types to be made by the City at the Stadium during the following calendar year.
  • If the City determines that proposed work is a Capital Repair meeting one of the above types to be made by the City at the Stadium during the following calendar year, the City will bid and contract for the making of the work following City procedures from the $12 Million Deposit within an available construction time period of January through July 31st.
  • Should the City in the future increase the rate of the admission tax to be paid for admission to events at the Stadium, the City agrees to deposit into the Capital Repair Fund, subject to annual appropriation, an amount equal to the increase in the admission taxes collected at the Stadium. The deposited funds will then be available for Capital Repairs at the Stadium pursuant to the provisions of the Lease.

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About Daniel Williams

City of Cleveland, Ohio, Director of Media Relations

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