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FirstEnergy Stadium

Aerial View
Copyright 1999 by Aerial Views Publishing

  Venue Resources  
Address 100 Alfred Lerner Way
Cleveland, OH 44114
Phone (440) 891-5000
Seating Weather
Newspaper
Satellite View
Browns Gear
  Calendar / Tickets  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Cleveland

  The Facility  
Date Opened September 12, 1999
Ownership
(Management)
City of Cleveland
(Cleveland Stadium Corp)
Surface Grass
Cost of Construction $283 million
Former Names Cleveland Browns Stadium
(1999-2012)
FirstEnergy Stadium
(2012-Present)
Naming Rights FirstEnergy will pay the Cleveland Browns $102 million over 17 years beginning in January 2012.
Stadium Architect Populous
General
Contractors /
Construction Managers
Huber, Hunt & Nichols
  Other Facts  
Tenants Cleveland Browns
(NFL) (1999-Present)
Population Base 5,000,000
On Site Parking Unknown
Nearest Airport Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)
Retired Numbers #14 Otto Grham
#32 Jim Brown
#45 Ernie Davis
#46 Don Fleming
#76 Lou Groza

  Seating  
Capacity 73,200
Average Ticket $48.79
(2005)
$54.41
(2008)
Fan Cost Index (FCI) $297.16
(2005)
$323.66
(2008)
The Team Marketing Report FCI includes: four average-price tickets; four small soft drinks; two small beers; four hot dogs; two game programs; parking; and two adult-size caps.
Luxury Suites 145 Suites
Club Seats 8,754
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1999 580,934 100% 0.0%
2000 581,544 99.2% 0.1%

2001 2002 2003 2004
583,094 586,294 585,564 584,840

2005 2006 2007 2008
578,330 578,672 584,006 582,230

2009 2010 2011 2012
551,110 528,933 526,874 533,058

Sources: Mediaventures

Picture This:
A New Look for a New Stadium

Steven Litt
The Plain Dealer
March 2, 1997

Watching the evolving design of Cleveland's new lakefront NFL stadium is like waiting for a World Wide Web picture to emerge on a computer with a slow modem. Patience is required.

Many details are in flux. But this much is certain: Architects from the Sport Division of Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) of Kansas City, Mo., now know exactly how far fans will be from the action.

New drawings prepared recently by HOK give distances of selected sight-lines in the new stadium for the first time. They also compare those distances to the old Stadium and other new NFL stadiums designed by HOK.

The news is good and bad, depending on where fans sit in the new 72,000-seat stadium. Another factor is that while average ticket prices will be lower than the NFL average, they will be 28.5 percent higher than in the old Stadium. Those prices don't include the one-time cost of permanent seat licenses, which range from $250 to $1,500, before discounts.

Of course, the discussion could be moot if backers of a dome for the stadium put a ballot issue before voters and the current design is derailed.

Scoreboard
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But if the project goes ahead, it's clear that fans along sidelines in the two lower tiers of the three-tier building will be as close or closer to the field in the new stadium than in the old - in some cases, significantly closer.

But fans along sidelines in the front row of the third level upper deck will be 30 feet farther from the 50-yard sideline than fans in upper deck seats in the old Stadium.

Columns Unacceptable

The main reason for the greater distance of the upper deck from the field in the new stadium is simple: The building has no overhangs and no columns.

The upper deck could be brought closer to the field, if the designers supported the structure with columns. But columns would obstruct seats below.

"Columns within the seating bowl are unacceptable," HOK Architect Dennis Wellner declared flatly in a telephone interview last week.

Other factors also contribute to the increased distance. "Current [building] codes have additional requirements in terms of dimensions for exits, aisles and [seat] tread depth, which all push the stadium outward," Wellner said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires significant seating areas for wheelchairs at every seating level, which pushes the size of the building. An increase in restrooms adds square footage. Two tiers of loges, sandwiched between the three tiers of outdoor seating, push the building higher.

All of those factors add up to a bigger building. The new stadium will be roughly 1.6 million square feet, or half again as large as the old Stadium.

Fans in the upper deck along the sidelines will feel the difference. But they wouldn't be much closer to the action in other new NFL stadiums.

HOK's drawings show that the sightline distances in the new Cleveland stadium will be roughly comparable with new NFL stadiums in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla., also designed by HOK. Cleveland wanted a new stadium that meets NFL standards, and that's what it's getting.

Fans in the 21,750 lower section seats in the new stadium should rejoice. They will be 65 feet from the 50-yard line, compared to 144 feet in the old Stadium.

The main reason for the gain is that the seating bowl is configured tightly around the football gridiron. The old Stadium, designed as a multipurpose facility, had seats that curved away from the gridiron at the 50-yard line.

Holders of club seats in the new stadium should also be pleased. The front row of the club section at the 50-yard line is 151 feet from the sideline in the new stadium, 15 feet closer than the upper deck section in the old Stadium.

From there up, the numbers aren't as good. The upper deck in the new stadium is roughly twice as high as the upper deck in the old Stadium. The front row of the section is 196 feet from the 50-yard sideline, as opposed to 166 feet in the old Stadium.

Fans in the upper and lower sections of the West end zone are all winners. The first row of field-level seats are 31 feet from the end line of the field, as compared with 89 feet in the old Stadium. The first row of upper deck seats in the West end zone is 125 feet from the field, 14 feet closer than in the old Stadium.

Life in the Dawg Pound

Fans in the Dawg Pound, where roughly 10,000 seats are located in two tiers, will enjoy a comparable sense of closeness to the game. A public restaurant with 600 seats at tables and a bar will be sandwiched between the upper and lower tiers of the Dawg Pound.

Unlike the restaurant at Jacobs Field, which is open only to holders of premium seats during games, the stadium restaurant will be open to all ticketholders - as long as they have a reservation. The restaurant should be a hit, because it will have sweeping views of the field and of North Coast Harbor.

A quantitative analysis of sightline distances offers only a limited perspective on how the new stadium will feel.

A recent batch of computer-generated drawings shows that HOK is designing a gutsy, robust stadium with muscular steelwork resembling the Hulett unloaders on Whiskey Island and other bits of industrial engineering on the waterfront. The building will offer dramatic skyline views through notches in the southwest and southeast corners of the seating stands.

But designers don't know yet whether plazas around the stadium will be hard and windswept, or softened with greenery. It isn't known whether upper concourses will be protected from weather, or whether high quality public art is part of the project.

Written comments by staff members of the City Planning Commission say that plans for the reconstituted Donald Gray Gardens on the north side of the stadium look too friendly for muggers and not friendly enough to migratory birds, who used to roost in the old gardens. The design is sure to change.

All of those details will have an impact on the success of the stadium. But sightline distances should give an idea of how intimate the new stadium will feel. It depends on where you sit - and what you pay.

The lighting at the new stadium is designed to give it a "crown effect" at night. Plans for the seating had to be reduced from 74,300 to 72,000, as well as the number of ticket booths and elevators in order to avoid budget over-runs.

Stadium Design and Construction.

* Demolition of the Cleveland Municipal Stadium began in November 1996.
* Browns President, Bill Futterer and Facilities Manager, Dean Phillips, are working closely with all organizations related to stadium design and construction.
* HOK Architects based in Kansas City, MO is the architectural firm for the stadium.
* Robert P. Madison is the lead local architect
* Clark Sports, Inc. was selected by the Cleveland Browns early October of 1996 to provide consulting services in stadium constructions. Clark will ensure that the stadium is designed in compliance with NFL's minimum program requirements, and is constructed according to plans.
* On August 7, 1997 the City of Cleveland announced its hiring of Huber, Hunt and Nichols, Inc to provide construction management services for the new stadium. Also announced was the hiring of Jim Conrath from the firm of O'Brien-Kreitzberg as the Owner's Representative for the project and Bill Reidy, from the firm of Coopers and Lybrand, who will provide construction accounting services.
* Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Stadium was May 15,1997.

Details, Details.

* 31 acre site
* Ramps positioned in each corner of the facility
* 4 escalators
* 14 elevators
* 4 unisex restrooms -- a wonderful option for parents and children
* 8,000 Club seats
* 10,000 Dawg Pound Seats
* 116 Luxury Suites

FirstEnergy StadiumFirstEnergy Stadium

* 2 Club Lounges of 50,000 square feet each
* 21" width for Club Seats
* 19" width for General Seats
* 2 color video screens
* 2 black and white matrix scoreboards
* 3 auxiliary scoreboards
* 4 game clocks
* 2 forty-five second clocks
* Soccer facilities have been designed into the base building, including a 69 yard and a 114 yard field

We Have Some of the Closest Sight Lines in the NFL.

The first row of the lower deck is barely a first down away from the sideline. The only way to get any closer is to become a coach or trainer. But you're not just close. You've got a clear view from any seat in the place -- no posts, no overhangs, nothing to look at but the game.

The new Stadium will have three times as many rest rooms as old Municipal Stadium. And they'll really be something to see. But the good news is you won't see much of them, you'll be in and out so fast. And back to your seat. Which will be closer to the field than ever.

Stadium Notes

* Designed by HOK Architects.
* At full ADA compliance capacity will be 72,300.
* Absolutely no pillars, no posts, no obstructed views.
* Unique notches in the design allow for dramatic glimpses of the city.
* Many seat in the Stadium are angled toward the field.
* This is an open-air, natural grass Stadium -- just the way Cleveland Browns fans like their football to be played.

CLEVELAND KEEPS NAMING RIGHTS, BUT SELLS ENTRIES TO SPONSORS
July 1, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

The Cleveland Browns have opted not to sell naming rights to their stadium when it opens this fall, but they have not forsaken sponsorship money entirely and have sold rights to the venue's four entrances. The name of the stadium will remain Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Prices paid for the sponsorships were not disclosed, but National City Corp., Steris Corp., CoreComm Inc. and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation have purchased the rights to have their names emblazoned above each of the four main gates and on signage inside the stadium. Each of the sponsors will also participate in stadium operations. Steris manufactures hand sanitizing equipment and will have its products in stadium restrooms; National City will provide banking services; CoreComm will provide telecommunication services and Cleveland Clinic will be the medical provider.

While the program created by the Browns is unique, the idea of selling entryways to sports venues was first used at the Air Canada Centre which opened this year. Companies were given the chance to sponsor entrances to the building and a budget in which to work. If they decided to go over the budget, the company was responsible for the overage. While prices weren't disclosed, the minimum investment was CAN$500,000.

FANS TOUR BROWNS NEW STADIUM
August 19, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

The Cleveland Browns new $283 million stadium opened for tours this week, giving fans a chance to see what the team's new digs are like. People, bearing gifts of food for a local food bank, lined up around the venue, in some cases waiting 90 minutes for a chance to see the inside. Early reviews of the 72,000-seat stadium were positive with the official opening set for Saturday.

August 27, 1999 (AP) - The Cleveland Browns spent $283 million on their new stadium, outfitting it with the finest in everything to make it one of the NFL's nicest homes.

Chris Spielman wonders what happened to the lawn.

"The field needs work," said Browns' middle linebacker said. "I about blew my knee out on it. You go and plant and you dig up divots. That needs to get fixed."

FirstEnergy Stadium
Image of Cleveland Browns Stadium by Mark Lyons of Allsport

THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell

Cleveland Browns Stadium Ranking by USRT
Architecture 6.5
Concessions 7
Scoreboard 7.5
Ushers 7
Fan Support 8
Location 8
Banners/History 4
Entertainment 6
Concourses/Fan Comfort 5
Bonus: Tailgate Scene 2.5
Bonus: Dawg Pound 1
Bonus: Named Gates 1
Total Score 63.5
October 29, 2000 & October 17, 2004 - Browns Stadium opened in 1999, and it is the new home of the Cleveland Browns. The Stadium was built on the site of the old Cleveland Stadium, which was demolished after the old Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. The configuration and topography of the venue is such that it is hard to even picture how the old stadium was laid out.

The stadium is designed and built much like the new generation of NFL venues such as Baltimore, Tampa Bay and except for the closed end zones, actually bore a striking resemblance to the Coliseum in Nashville. It is built on the shores of Lake Erie, and ample parking and easy access to downtown makes this an easy facility to access.

The team did not sell naming rights to the stadium, but rather solicited corporate sponsors for each of the four gates... the names of these corporations are displayed everywhere and printed on the tickets as well. The one drawback in terms of being a sponsor is that these companies get no play on television... tune in and you will see "Live from Cleveland Browns Stadium", not "Live from Cleveland Browns Stadium and the Corecomm, Steris, National City and Cleveland Clinic Gates".

The facility itself is beautiful, although we still rate M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as somewhat nicer. There are many amenities to add to the experience - for the premium ticket holders there is a private club level as well as a membership only facility called the "Legends Club" which offers a pregame buffet. For the average fan there is a terrific complex at the main entrance called "Gridiron Square" which includes a large sports bar and restaurant, a huge team store with attractive displays and a big selection of merchandise, and a Browns Hall of Fame. On the lake side is an indoor/outdoor concession area called the "Budweiser Barking Lot", which was sort of a huge beer garden. All the concession stands have a football motif  (e.g. "Punt, Pass and Pizza") on the marquees and a great food selection.

And just as in St. Louis, on the inside main concourse there is a permanent display listing all the team's charter PSL holders handsomely engraved on the wall. Their building is sold out on a season ticket basis and there is a waiting list for season tickets. The team sells 3000 of the cheapest seats on a game by game basis to single seat buyers.

The bowl is also attractive - with all seats in team colors and the helmet logo molded into each seat. Along the field wall there is a decorative Browns mural ringing the entire field. Jumbotrons at both ends, and three separate information boards... one with streaming individual game stats, one with out of town scores, and the third with 3 clocks --- time of day, time in the game and a 40 second clock... nice. Oh.. and another favorite --- a uniform changeable ad panel on each upper deck.

The "Dawg Pound" theme is everywhere - nacho chips are sold in dog food dishes; a great souvenir is a brown and orange dog collar for people to wear, and professional sports'  tired anthem  "who let the dogs out?" is TOTALLY appropriate here, and rightfully should be adopted by the Browns (We are SO SICK of this song!).

We were wondering what kind of experience we would have as far as the staff working the game... would it be the warm friendly ushers and staff who work the Cavs games, or the surly and ornery folks who run the show at the Indians games? Gratefully, the personnel were very nice.. after our ticket was torn, there was actually a "greeter" at the gates, stopping fans at random to welcome them and praise their outfits. Nice touch!

Retired Numbers/Banners
One of the deals when the old team left was that the nickname, colors, and team history and records would remain in Cleveland. We were surprised, then, not to see any wall of fame, ring of fame, retired numbers or championship banners anywhere. The Hall of Fame we mentioned earlier had very little to it. Furthermore, there was not even one photo of the old stadium anywhere to be found. Granted it was a pretty dismal place, and pretty gut wrenching as far as memories, especially for the Indians.. but is still a part of their heritage, and it has pretty much been obliterated. We thought that was too bad. Of course, the Browns haven't had too much to cheer about in recent times..most of their great moments occurred in the 40s in the AAFC and then in the 50s in the NFL. Judging from the team's performance on our first visit, their fans could be in for a long wait.

Overall, we found Cleveland Browns Stadium to be a terrific place and one we would go back to in a heartbeat...

Touchdowns, Extra Points, Fumbles...

Extra Point - Cleveland has its Dawg Pound, Wrigley has its bleachers and St. Louis has its Big Mac Land... ways of putting an aura or a mystique on the crummiest seats in the house...  But somehow the new Dawg Pound has lost the mystique of its predecessor in the old stadium.

Touchdown - Nachos served in dog food bowl.

Touchdown - A 99 yard pass play, no less, which we witnessed on our return visit, only the 11th time this has happened in NFL history.

Extra Point - On our first visit here in 2000, we had our car towed even though we had left our vehicle in a legally marked spot. We tempted fate again on our return visit, parked for free, and our car was there after the game! Worth a mention.

CLEVELAND PLANS DEVELOPMENT BEHIND BROWNS STADIUM
July 16, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - A redeveloped waterfront area being planned by Cleveland officials will bring major changes over the next five years to the area around Browns Stadium.

The three phases of development may take 25 years to complete, taking into account the port's move to East 55th Street, but architects designing the project said the key is doing a lot of the work in small steps.

Much needs to be worked out, not the least of which is funding, but developers are optimistic that phase one could be completed in five years.

The architectural team sees a harbor and a pier teeming with water-based entertainment, such as marinas, historic tall ships, paddle boat rentals, dinner cruises and restaurants on barges. On land, uses would mesh with the cultural institutions and could include a sculpture garden; small outdoor performance venues; and a park north of the stadium.

Playing off the stadium, the neighborhood theme would be sports and entertainment, with restaurants, clubs and outdoor performance spots.

BROWNS PLAN DEVELOPMENT NEAR STADIUM
April 21, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - The Browns have announced plans for a mixed-use project, including athletic fields and a potential sports-medicine or wellness facility, on more than 20 acres north of the team's stadium, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

A sketch of the possible lakefront district also shows a 1,000-car parking garage to the south, connected to the stadium by an enclosed pedestrian walkway over the Shoreway, the newspaper said.

The Browns believe they can use their local clout and widespread name recognition to attract developers and dollars to an extremely valuable, yet long-neglected, piece of downtown Cleveland, the newspaper said.

"We would like to be known as a catalyst," Browns President Mike Holmgren told the Plain Dealer. "We're not developers. We're in the football business ... but we have a wonderful stadium down there and a great piece of property."

The Browns have hired Hammes Co. to study the potential of a lakefront site largely owned by the city of Cleveland.

Politicians and planners have floated a procession of lakefront plans over the years. Yet much of Cleveland's downtown waterfront remains undeveloped and inaccessible to people who live and work in the city, the newspaper said. The Browns aren't getting into the real estate business, but team leaders want to shepherd private investment, bridging a gulf that local governments and foundations aren't flush enough to fill.

"This is really a commitment to mobilize investors to actually take on development in the area," said Chris Warren, chief of regional development for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. "It's really the shift from planning to development."

The Browns' proposal builds on billions of dollars in downtown investment, including a medical mart, a new convention center, a casino and the Flats East Bank project; takes advantage of city-owned property; and focuses attention on a much-needed private-sector commitment to reinventing the waterfront, Joe Roman, chief executive officer of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region's chamber of commerce, told the Plain Dealer.

"The brands that get people's attention are the Cleveland Clinic and our health care institutions, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and Museum) and our sports teams," he said. "So the branding power, the ability to get private investors' attention by leading with private brand interest, is a game changer."

BROWNS SEEK BREAK ON PARKING RATES
May 19, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - The Cleveland Browns want taxpayers to cut them a break on thousands of parking spaces leased from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, citing the possibility of a strike this season, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

But board members at the tax-supported port balked at offering concessions that would amount to tens of thousands of dollars. Board member Richard Knoth noted that lease terms have remained relatively unchanged for 15 years, while Browns' ticket prices have increased.

The 3-3 tie delayed any chance of approval until the July 20 meeting.

Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said team officials are confident the differences with the port can be worked out.

The two sides will be cutting it close: The first of two home preseason games is Aug. 13 against the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. The first home regular-season game is Sept. 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Browns have for more than 30 years leased more than 5,000 parking spaces on Port of Cleveland docks west of the stadium. But the latest $225,000 per-year lease expires next month. Construction work on a new rail line, and storage of soil from the construction of a downtown medical mart and convention center will force the removal of 1,150 parking spaces from the mix, leaving 3,878 spaces within easy walking distance of Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Team officials have been in negotiations with the port in an attempt to obtain a $25,000 price reduction and a $20,000 discount for every home game lost to a strike. Port Authority CEO William Friedman said the Browns maintain they lose money on the parking deal after they pay the lots' operator, Ampco System Parking.

BROWNS SEEK ADVANCE ON STADIUM REPAIR FUNDS
January 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - The Cleveland Browns want the city to give the team seven years of football stadium repair money - $5.8 million - right now, the Cleveland Plain Dealer said.

The team contends the work is necessary to maintain a 12-year-old stadium battered by a sometimes harsh northern climate, and it has asked for an exception to a 30-year lease that calls for the city to set aside $850,000 a year for major repairs.

Under the complicated proposal, the Browns would get this year's $850,000 plus $5 million from the next six years of repair money drawn from the tax revenue collected countywide on alcohol and tobacco sales and administered by the city. In exchange, the city would not have to make its annual contributions from the tax money to a stadium repair fund for the next six years.

But what happens if additional needs arise during that time? Ken Silliman, Mayor Frank Jackson's chief of staff, said the city will consider dipping further into the so-called sin tax money. Browns general counsel Fred Nance was guarded about what the team would be willing to do.

"If that situation were to happen, the city and the Browns would sit down and work out something that, first and foremost, ensures the integrity of the building and its systems," he said.

Cuyahoga County voters agreed in 1995 to dedicate the sin tax to help build the stadium, which ended up costing more than $290 million, and eventually to cover $29 million in repairs.

The sin tax, which expires in 2015, currently raises $13 million a year. Starting this spring, the city must begin putting the sin tax money aside for stadium repairs.

Silliman said officials know they have to figure out how to pay for repairs after the tax expires. He said he has heard no discussion of renewing the tax again.

The money the Browns would get for repairs this year would include an estimated $1.2 million for refurbishing club seats on the north and south sides of the stadium and at the east end zone. Another $750,000 will pay to waterproof the concrete under those seats.

Most of the rest of the $5.8 million would go for replacement and repair of concrete on interior ramps and walkways and a plaza outside the stadium.

February 9, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland has agreed to give the Browns a $5.8 million lump sum for stadium repairs. The City Council voted to let the team take the money from a city-administered tax on alcohol and tobacco sales. Cleveland, which leases the stadium to the football team, is required to provide only $850,000 a year for major improvements. The Browns want to use the nearly $6 million to refurbish seats and replace, repair and waterproof concrete inside and outside the 12-year-old building. Osborn Engineering's Jack Krebs, hired by the team, blamed Northeast Ohio's often severe winters for the damage, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

BROWNS SEEK TAX EXTENSION FOR STADIUM REPAIRS
March 1, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - Cleveland's three major professional sports franchises soon might find themselves on the same team - along with the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Crain's Cleveland Business said the new team would come together to win an extension of a cigarette and alcohol tax that would pay for the future upkeep of the city's sports palaces to extend the life of those structures - and push back the need for new buildings beyond the typical 30-year life span.

The team effort will be needed because renewing or replacing the so-called sin tax, which now runs only through 2015, will be a come-from-behind challenge.

The biggest challenge will be changing the minds of state officials and overcoming the tobacco and alcoholic beverage lobbies, which in 2008 slipped into a budget bill language that forbids counties from levying local sin taxes. If the teams can secure an exemption from the ban from the state Legislature, it's likely voters in Cuyahoga County then would be asked to approve the tax.

So far, the charge to extend the sin tax is led by the Cleveland Browns. Executives from the football team went before Cleveland City Council earlier this month to ask for a $5 million loan from the city for repairs that would be repaid later this year and in 2013 from future sin tax proceeds. Team officials say the 13-year-old stadium needs a variety of work, which includes repairing cracked concrete, fixing leaky seals that allow water to damage the structure and replacing seat anchors. The city approved the plan.

In an editorial board meeting with Crain's, Browns officials indicated they expect they won't be going it alone in seeking the Legislature's approval for an extension of the sin tax.

"We anticipate a collaborative effort among the three teams," said Fred Nance, the Browns' general counsel.

The two other big-league teams are aware of the Browns' moves but are staying on the sidelines.

"This is all very premature for us," said Len Komoroski, president of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena. "We've had no discussion about our position with respect to this yet."

Cuyahoga County voters in 1990 approved a 15-year sin tax to pay for construction of Progressive (then Jacobs) Field and Quicken Loans (then Gund) Arena at what was known as the Gateway project. Five years later, voters extended the tax for another 10 years to help build Cleveland Browns Stadium. The measures put a tax on cigarettes of 4.5 cents per pack and on beer of 16 cents per gallon. It also taxed wine and mixed beverages at 32 cents per gallon and other spirits at $3 per gallon.

At the end of 2015, the bonds Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland issued to pay for their shares of construction of the Gateway buildings and Browns Stadium, respectively, will have been repaid. The teams have 30-year leases that put the onus of capital repairs on the city and county governments.

While all the teams have made building improvements with their own funds, the cost of upkeep will grow as the buildings age. So, to avoid putting the buildings at the mercy of tight government general fund budgets, the city, the county and the Browns agree they need a secure revenue stream that will be dedicated to paying for major capital repairs. Like all aging buildings, with diligent maintenance the life span of these structures can be extended and the need for new buildings can be postponed.

JUDGE QUESTIONS CONTRACT FOR CLEVELAND STADIUM WORK
March 15, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - A Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge didn't block a contract for repairs to Cleveland Browns Stadium, but the Plain Dealer said he clearly had questions about why the city rejected the low bidder.

Suburban Maintenance and Construction, which bid $5.6 million, was in court all day trying stop the job from going to Platform Cement, which was second-lowest at $5.8 million. The hearing centers on a city decision that Suburban didn't try hard enough to hire local small businesses and minority- and female-owned companies as subcontractors.

One such company chosen by Suburban was on a list of city-approved contractors, but its certification expired before the contract was awarded Feb. 22. In court, bid evaluator Diana Anthony acknowledged that she failed to give credit for another company, a female-owned business, because she read its handwritten name as Dunlap Industries instead of Dunlop and couldn't locate it during her research.

"Their penmanship is now part of the good-faith effort?" said Judge John O'Donnell, interrupting Anthony's testimony. "I'm not sure I get that."

Plans call for refurbishing the 12-year-old stadium's seats and replacing and repairing ramps, bridges and other concrete. The city, which owns the building, will pay for the work with money from a countywide tax on alcohol and tobacco sales.

Bidders were asked to aim for giving 15 percent of the work to minority-owned companies, 8 percent to local small businesses and 7 percent to female-owned enterprises. City rules refer to the figures as goals, not quotas.

Platform, headquartered in Mentor, fared best in measurement based on dollar volume that went to subcontractors. The city, which lumped the categories in scoring, said the company subcontracted 25 percent of the work to qualified companies, while North Royalton-based Suburban came in at about 7 percent.

Suburban was poised to hire what the company thought were seven qualified contractors but lost Hydracrete Pumping Inc., a small concrete-pumping company, after its city certification lapsed. Suburban's application also listed four other companies that failed to call back, including Dunlop, a female-owned structural-steel construction company.

Anthony ruled that two other losing bidders made earnest hiring efforts after they earmarked 13 percent of the work for eligible subcontractors. Neither indicated that they had tried to recruit other companies. O'Donnell said that made him question how the city grades effort. "There's no fixed standard," he said.

Thomas Kaiser, the city's chief trial lawyer, tried to have the case thrown out. He said counting Hydracrete and Dunlop would have improved Suburban's mark only a percentage point or two, which he said "doesn't amount to a hill of beans."

Suburban's lawyer, Charles Zepp, said the city awarded Platform the contract even though officials knew his clients could sue. Vice President Eric Urdzik testified that Suburban filed a letter of protest on Feb. 23 and requested a meeting with city officials the same day. He said the meeting occurred March 1, hours before the contract was signed.

Browns general counsel Fred Nance has said the repairs need to begin immediately in order to be finished in time for the stadium's next major event, a Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw country-music concert on July 29. In fact, the day's final witness, Jack Krebs of Osborn Engineering, said set-up should have started March 5.

Krebs said critical work needs to be taken care of now because it will be hard to navigate around events that will begin with the concert and preseason football. He raised questions about the safety of the stadium ramps, prompting O'Donnell to wonder whether the building was dangerous when the Browns finished the 2011 season on Jan. 1.

"It's progressively deteriorating," Krebs said.

JUDGE BLOCKS WORK ON BROWNS' STADIUM
March 29, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland, Ohio - Cleveland officials confirmed to WKYC that a Cuyahoga County judge has blocked the start of repairs on the stadium.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell sided with Suburban Maintenance and Construction Inc., who sued the city for giving the contract to Platform Cement. Platform had submitted the second lowest bid of $5.8 million, while Suburban's bid was $5.6 million.

The city rejected Suburban's bid because officials say the company didn't make a good-faith effort to include local small businesses or female and minority owned companies in the project. Suburban disagrees. The case will now go to trial.

Fred Nance, the team's legal counsel, told the television station that for the work to be completed on time and on budget, both contractors need to work together and drop the legal process.

"We hope they can team up on the project," Nance says. He says the work on the stadium should have started already.

The team had asked City Council to advance the Browns its sin tax money in one lump sum of $5.8 million - which the council approved.

The Browns wanted the seven years of payments lumped together, claiming making repairs now will be cheaper than delaying them.

Money would be used to refurbish club seats, waterproof concrete and fix ramps and walkways. They want the repairs down before a July 29 concert featuring Tim McGraw and Kenney Chesney.

April 5, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Cleveland Browns Stadium will get repaired in time for a July 29 concert because two contractors who bid on the work reached an agreement and avoided a court fight. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said the agreement calls for the low bidder, Suburban Maintenance and Construction of North Royalton, and the contract winner, Platform Cement of Mentor, to work together. Suburban had filed a suit saying the city violated state law, the Ohio Constitution and the municipal charter by giving the contract to Platform Cement the second lowest bidder. Platform bid the full $5.8 million budgeted by the city, while Suburban bid nearly $200,000 less.

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