CLEVELAND -- The Browns announced changes to FirstEnergy Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
Owner Jimmy Haslam said his ownership has two goals, to win games and give fans a great experience.
Haslam showed renderings of the changes.
Emceeing the announcement is WKYC's Jim Donovan, the radio voice of the Cleveland Browns. The theme of the announcement is "Bringing winning back to Cleveland."
Seating will be reduced from about 71,000 to 68,000 to accommodate the changes, but views from the seats will be improved. More escalators are being added.
New scoreboards will be three times as large as they are now. The field will remain grass.
In 2015, the concession areas will be upgraded, the suite areas will be upgraded throughout the concourse, graphics will be added and cellular phone access will be improved again.
The Cleveland Browns have initiated and developed a two-year FirstEnergy Stadium modernization project, proposed for completion during the next two offseasons, the team announced Wednesday.
The Browns are looking forward to working with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, the Cleveland City Council and the Design Review Advisory Committee, hoping the city shares in the team's enthusiasm.
In a statement released today, Jackson said, "The Cleveland Browns have submitted a plan for improvements to FirstEnergy Stadium. These plans will be reviewed by the Design Review Committee of the Cleveland Planning Commission tomorrow and by the full Planning Commission on Friday, November 15, 2013,
We have reviewed the design and are supportive of the improvements to the facility. The plan meets structural requirements and will improve the fan experience here in Cleveland. The details of the financing for the $120 million improvement plan are still being discussed."
"We have consistently communicated that two of our primary areas of focus are winning as many games as possible and creating the best fan experience in the NFL," said Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. "We have engaged our fans, asked for their thoughts and responded to their ideas and concerns. This modernization plan is a result of our desire to invest in creating the best environment for them and our players."
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 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.
"The Browns are proud and excited to reward their fans, their team and Northeast Ohio with this two-year modernization proposal," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "The Browns and the city of Cleveland have created a very positive working relationship on the design concepts of FirstEnergy Stadium, and we will continue to work together to establish a productive agreement."
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 Browns have just launched the process of reviewing the proposal with Mayor Jackson, City Council, the Design Review Advisory Committee and the City Planning Commission in the near future. The team looks forward to working collaboratively with the city on the process.
After analyzing fan feedback, the Browns enhanced multiple elements of the gameday experience at FirstEnergy Stadium prior to the 2013 season, focusing on stadium ingress, in-stadium cell-phone service, in-stadium team stores and guest expectations, as well as incorporating new features and traditions before and throughout home contests.
The Browns also completed a $5 million, four-month renovation project to vastly improve the team's Berea training facility and administrative complex this past off-season. Revamping 37,000 square feet of the 90,000-square-foot building, the team incorporated first-class upgrades and a modernized layout to heighten teamwork, both within and across departments, to best foster productivity with an interactive, innovative mindset through its commitment to acquiring and retaining top talent on and off the field.
The announcement was made during a short program, which began at approximately 2:15 p.m. on the north side of the stadium's main concourse.
Haslam, CEO Joe Banner and President Alec Scheiner were in attendance. Banner said the cost of the changes will be about $120 million and that the team will make a "significant investment" in that total cost but declined to say how much.