Haslams Confirm Dome Stadium Outside Downtown Cleveland Now A Viable Option

Dee and Jimmy Haslam now believe a new dome stadium built outside of downtown Cleveland is a viable option as a future home of the Browns. (TheLandOnDemand)

Dee and Jimmy Haslam now believe a new dome stadium built outside of downtown Cleveland is a viable option as a future home of the Browns. (TheLandOnDemand)

Haslams confirm dome stadium outside downtown Cleveland now a viable option

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.


Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam are now considering a new dome stadium away from the current lakefront site as a viable alternative for a long-term home for the Browns.

They say they view a new dome stadium on an equal plane with their original plan to dramatically refurbish existing Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I think it’s fair to say … that in all likelihood we’re either going to remodel on the lakefront with an extensive remodel or build a new stadium, which would be a dome,” Jimmy Haslam said in a sit-down interview with Northeast Ohio reporters covering NFL owners meetings.

“Because if we did go the dome route – I’m not saying we’re doing that vs. remodeling where we are now – it could be used more than 12 times a year.

“We’re completely open-minded. We’ve got to really let both options play out and see what makes the most sense. We meet probably every other week with a group of our top people and are working hard at it, but it’s complicated.”

But the public pivot to a dome stadium now clearly sets up a different debate with dramatically different costs.

The Haslams’ original renovation proposal included estimates of $1 billion, with additional costs to build a pedestrian land bridge over the downtown shoreway. Jimmy Haslam said a dome stadium would be more than two times that price tag.

Asked if he would consider funding a new dome stadium privately, as have Jerry Jones in Arlington, TX, and Stan Kroenke in Inglewood, CA, Haslam said, “I’ll just say this: We're in negotiation with various government entities and we'll see how things work out.”

Dee Haslam said traffic congestion surrounding Cleveland Browns Stadium is a big problem that is hard to solve.

“I think we looked at ‘can we solve all the issues on the waterfront for our fans?’ It’s hard to get into, hard to get out of, we have no parking. I think that was really something important for us, as how to solve those issues,” Dee Haslam said.

“And when you start thinking about what Cleveland can be and what the vision for this city is, I think we underestimate what a great place it is. And I think there’s an opportunity here to perhaps build a dome stadium that can transform our area. That’s something exciting to think about. We’re looking at both options. Not one option is above the other. But I do think that Cleveland deserves to be thought of as this evolving, forward-thinking, creative city as opposed to not thinking big.”

Jimmy Haslam added, “There's two schools of thought. The Browns Stadium, it's awesome. It's on the lake, but okay, we play basically 10 games a year, counting exhibition games. And we'll have a couple of concerts and I'm not trying to be funny, a tractor pull and so 14, 15 events there. Would that land be better used for whatever else? And then there’s other people who say, ‘No, it’s great’ and we just got to work through it.”

Jimmy Haslam said there is no other potential site for a dome stadium in downtown.

Jimmy Haslam confirmed a NEO Trans report in February that he has an option to purchase 176 acres of land near Cleveland Hopkins Airport in Brook Park. That site would be plenty big enough to develop revenue-generating entities beyond a football stadium.

“One of the things we want to do with a new stadium – if we go that route – we do not have a lot of parking,” Jimmy Haslam said. “A new stadium, you’d have 12,000 to 15,000 parking spaces, which is dramatically different from what we have now.”

The Haslams said they are not concerned with any public backlash for leaving downtown Cleveland if they choose the dome stadium option.

“I think the lakefront still is a great piece of property and it would be a great place for people to live,” Dee Haslam said. “It could be absolutely amazing. So regardless of what happens, the lakefront needs to happen. It's really critical to our community. So I think there's a lot of great plans for downtown. I'm personally really excited.”

The Haslams believe a new dome stadium outside of downtown would be equally beneficial to the Northeast Ohio region.

“You could paint the vision of what our community could be and the jobs it can provide and the surrounding development or just the growth that could happen from it,” Dee Haslam said. “So I look at it as very positive either way. It's very positive for the community, but it's not bad. There's nothing negative about not being downtown. I think there's still just a huge story about that.

“There's a vision there that we believe that Cleveland is a great place and deserves a dome stadium.”

As for a timetable, Jimmy Haslam pointed out the Browns’ lease in Cleveland Browns Stadium expires after the 2028 season. He said he believed if construction of a new stadium were delayed and not completed for 2029, a yearly extension in Cleveland Browns Stadium could be agreed to.

“But I think it's in everybody's interest to try to get it clarified,” he said. “But I hate to be redundant. This is complicated and we've got to work through a lot of different issues.”

Extensions coming

Jimmy Haslam confirmed contract extensions for coach Kevin Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry are imminent.

“We're in the process of working through things so that Kevin and Andrew would be with us for an extended period of time,” he said.

“The NFL is a highly pressured situation. And the two of them, I can't imagine --there may be other coaches and GMs that get along better than them -- but I can't imagine two people in that situation that work together better than the two of them do. And I say this all the time, and Paul [DePodesta, chief strategy officer], I mean the three of them work together extremely well. And so that makes our job much easier.”