The Cleveland Browns are planning to move forward with an extensive renovation of their lakefront stadium instead of seeking a new building, according to a report by NEOtrans.
The venue, which opened in 1999, recently had its name revert to Cleveland Browns Stadium after the mutual termination of a naming rights contract with FirstEnergy.
The Browns and the city had disagreed about building a new stadium, which could have cost $2 to $3 billion. Instead, they will undertake a $1 billion renovation of the existing structure that will also include a relocated Shoreway freeway that cuts off access to the stadium area from downtown Cleveland, and a land bridge across a set of railroad tracks that will include parking and real estate development opportunities.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure that has to go into connecting downtown, which is the first thing that has to happen,” Jimmy Haslam said at the NFL Annual Meetings. “We’ve got to connect downtown to the waterfront, right? Everybody knows that. So you’ve got to relocate the highway … I do think the city, the county and the state are working together well, but there’s a lot of hoops to jump through.”
The Browns’ lease expires in 2028, but the stadium is expected to undergo construction starting in 2026 and continue for two or three seasons. During that time, the Browns could be displaced from Cleveland, with Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio pitched as the most likely temporary venue.
The re-built stadium is not expected to include a dome or retractable roof, citing engineering difficulties based on the former Lake Erie shoreline landfill that the stadium is constructed atop.
The Browns are also expanding and upgrading their practice facility in suburban Berea, Ohio.
The Steelers will likely be following just behind the Browns on terms of their stadium lease timeline with Acrisure Stadium opening two years after Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said last July that he hopes to extend the Steelers’ lease with Acrisure Stadium and its owner, the Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.
“We’d love to and we assume we will extend the lease at some point,” Rooney said. “We haven’t quite gotten to that point yet. We still have, I think eight years on the existing lease. At some point, we’ll get into those discussions down the road.”
The Steelers’ lease is currently scheduled to expire in February 2031.