April 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
34°F

Browns: FirstEnergy Stadium renovation to have 2 phases

CLEVELAND — The name isn’t the only thing changing at the former Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Browns have formally committed to spend more than $100 million to renovate the lakefront facility now known as FirstEnergy Stadium, according to a story published Monday in Sports Business Daily. Complete details are expected to be revealed later this month.

Construction will take place in two phases — following the 2013 and 2014 NFL seasons — and include new scoreboards, video screens, and massive improvements to all three concourse levels. Providing fans additional protection from Cleveland’s winter weather is also on the drawing board.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III announced plans to upgrade the stadium shortly after purchasing the franchise last fall, but it was unclear whether they would continue in light of the federal investigation of his Pilot Flying J truck stop empire.

Browns CEO Joe Banner issued a statement confirming the SBD report, and announced that Turner Construction and California-based architectural company Gensler have been hired to oversee the changes. The stadium opened in 1999 on the site of the Browns’ former home, Cleveland Stadium.

“We have consistently communicated that improving the fan experience is one of our priorities,” Banner said. “We have engaged Gensler architectural firm and Turner Construction to explore every opportunity to help us accomplish this through a potential renovation.

“This process is in the early stages, so it would be premature to discuss financial parameters, but when we have specific details, we will certainly share our plans with our fans and the community.”

During Banner’s lengthy, successful stint running the Philadelphia Eagles, Gensler was responsible for designing upgrades to their stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.

The firm also took the lead on renovating Dodger Stadium and Roland Garros Stadium — home of the French Open — and developed the master site plan for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

The Browns also made news off the field as Forbes released its annual list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. The franchise is ranked No. 34 with a value of $987 million, dropping four spots and $10 million one year ago.

Haslam bought 70 percent of the Browns from Randy Lerner in October, and will purchase his remaining stake in 2015 for a total cost of $1.05 billion.

International soccer powerhouse Real Madrid ($3.3 billion) heads the list, while the top United States-based franchises are MLB’s New York Yankees ($2.3 billion) in fourth place and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys ($2.1 billion) in fifth.

The Browns rank No. 21 among the 32 teams in the NFL, 30 of which made Forbes’ list. The St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars — the league’s top candidates for relocation — were left off.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.