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Lawmakers go to Browns HQ, get game plan on stadium talks: I-Team

CLEVELAND –  The FOX 8 I-Team captured state lawmakers going to the headquarters of the Cleveland Browns to talk about plans to either renovate the team’s current stadium or build a new multi-purpose domed stadium in Brook Park.

On Friday, Browns officials invited a group of state lawmakers from Northeast Ohio to discuss  the stadium projects. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes.

Lawmakers said the discussion centered mainly on the possibility of building a multi-purpose stadium.

“Today, we talked about the Brook Park location, that was the focus of the conversation,” said State Representative Casey Weinstein, (D-Hudson). “One thing that was broached, was whether there is a stadium there or not, what does the future of the lakefront look like?”

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Several of the lawmakers that attended the meeting said both options will involve tax dollars. They stressed the projects would be funded in part by the Browns. It is unclear how much might involve tax dollars.

“Everything that we do has to benefit the people no matter where you have the Cleveland Browns,” said State Representative Juanita Brent, (D-Cleveland). “The Browns are being good partners by informing us so down the road we can make a good decision.”

State Representative Steve Demetriou, (R- Bainbridge Township) says he was impressed with the Browns plans.

“It was really fascinating to hear their vision,” Demetriou said. “I think the Haslams’ have done a real great job. It was really cool to see that they want to make wherever the Browns end up playing a world class facility.”

Officials with the Browns say no decision has been made, and they are still exploring both options.

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Cleveland city officials told the I-Team that Browns officials met with city leaders earlier this week. A spokeswoman with the city released the following statement:

“Negotiations are still ongoing.The Browns are a tenant of the stadium and as their lease expires, they’ve expressed that a renewal is contingent on upgrades they feel are necessary to bring a fan experience that is on par with other teams in the NFL. If the City of Cleveland does not make any upgrades, we can expect the tenant will not renew their lease and the stadium will need to either find a new long-term tenant or will remain empty following the duration of the current lease in 2028. Mayor Bibb’s priority is developing a world-class lakefront. The city has expanded the scope of our consultant to look at alternate options for the lakefront. We must consider all possibilities to make our lakefront vision a reality.”

City and state leaders both say talks with the Browns will continue. The current stadium in downtown was built in 1999.

The mayor of Brook Park is not commenting on any specific talks, but he added that he still needs to see the numbers for the price tag.

Months ago, in an interview with the I-Team, Governor Mike DeWine said the state will help pay, but a lot depends on the cost.

“Things are still developing,” said State Representative Melanie Miller, (R-City of Ashland). “I think again we want to make sure it’s a win for Cleveland and a win for the region.”

Sources tell us funding for the project proposes a public private partnership with the public portion coming from tax revenue generated by the project, which will be enabled by the private investment.

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