There could be some very good news on the horizon for Cleveland Browns fans living in Columbus.
A development news website in Northeast Ohio, NEOtrans, has reported that the Cleveland Browns Stadium could be undergoing a renovation in the near future, leaving the team without a home, temporarily. When the renovation is underway, the team could head south to play at either Ohio Stadium or Columbus Crew’s Lower.com Field.
With Jimmy and Dee Haslam owning both the Cleveland Browns and the Columbus Crew, it’s natural to assume that Lower.com Field might have the edge. But the soccer stadium only has around 20,000 seats, which is not even half of the Cleveland Browns Stadium and only 1/5 of the capacity at The Shoe.
“The Haslams seek to rebuild Cleveland Browns Stadium so thoroughly that a source said, ‘It won’t look anything like it does now.’ The city-owned stadium will reportedly be rebuilt on their existing lease with the city rather than wait until after that 30-year lease expires following the 2028 football season,” NEOtrans’ Ken Prendergast wrote. “The reason for rebuilding the stadium sooner, coinciding with converting the Shoreway to a boulevard, is to avoid higher construction costs later on and start the next lease with the newly rebuilt stadium. That means the Browns will play for two to three seasons at another location.”
"That means the Browns will play for two to three seasons at another location. It isn’t publicly known yet where the Browns will play, but Columbus is a likely location."https://t.co/OVXNemgGPi
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) April 17, 2023
But Ohio Stadium comes with its own complications. The NFL season runs much longer than the NCAA football season and currently, The Shoe isn’t equipped to handle the colder weather anticipated during winter matches.
The Browns current lease at the stadium in Cleveland expires in 2028, but construction is expected to begin around 2026, with the team needing a temporary home for 2-3 years while construction is ongoing.
The renovation to the stadium is expected to cost around $1 billion and will include relocating the Shoreway freeway that cuts off access to the stadium area from downtown Cleveland as well as a land bridge across some nearby railroad tracks with additional parking and development opportunities.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure that has to go into connecting downtown, which is the first thing that has to happen,” Jimmy Haslam said at the NFL Annual Meetings. “We’ve got to connect downtown to the waterfront, right? Everybody knows that. So you’ve got to relocate the highway … I do think the city, the county and the state are working together well, but there’s a lot of hoops to jump through.”
No specifics have been laid out by the organizations involved, but it does seem like temporarily relocating to Columbus is an obvious option for the Cleveland Browns.