CLEVELAND — During his wide-ranging interview with 3News' Russ Mitchell on Monday, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb was asked for his thoughts on the future of the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Cleveland Browns' lease with the stadium is set through 2028, but in the past year, there have been rumblings that the team may be exploring other downtown locations for a new facility.
Bibb was asked how he views the stadium situation with the Browns.
"As we approach negotiations with the (owners Jimmy and Dee) Haslams and the Browns, it's going to be important that we in the community find a way to not just think about the stadium, but the lakefront as an asset for the entire region," Bibb stated. "It's my responsibility as mayor as we approach that negotiation to structure a deal that has the right return on investment for the residents of Cleveland."
Could city funds be part of a deal? "We have to explore every scenario we can to keep the Browns here, but leverage the stadium (renewal of the lease) as a catalytic investment for a world class lakefront." Bibb told Mitchell. "That's my priority."
Last June, NEOtrans blog's Ken Prendergast reported that the Browns owners are "leaning toward building a new stadium versus renovating the existing FirstEnergy Stadium." Sources Prendergast cites also say that the Haslams are not happy with the condition of the current stadium and how the structure is "aging poorly."
Prendergast reported that the Browns are looking at two potential sites: where the Main Post Office is currently located at 2400 Orange Ave., southeast of downtown, and just east of downtown’s central business district, north of St. Clair Avenue -- potentially between East 13th and East 17th streets. He also noted that "the Haslams reportedly want a year-round stadium with either a permanent dome or retractable roof to attract to Cleveland more non-football related events."
In November, Bibb was part of a town hall event that discussed ideas for the future of Cleveland's lakefront. Part of that future may include a proposed land bridge that the Haslam group revealed its vision for in 2021, giving people easier access to the lakefront and FirstEnergy Stadium.
While Cleveland is pondering its stadium future, other cities are deeper in the process. In Buffalo, the Bills will have a new facility located just across the street from their current home. The planned 60,000-seat stadium will have a "canopy roof" to help provide protection from severe weather. Plans call for the new stadium (rendering below) to open in 2026
Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars provided an update on its plans to renovate its current stadium, TIAA Bank Field. Those plans include adding a roof.
Bibb was asked if putting a roof or dome onto FirstEnergy Stadium was a possibility. "We shall see," he told Mitchell. "It's a big price tag."
You can watch Russ Mitchell's entire interview with Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb below: