CLEVELAND – The Cleveland City Council approved a plan to pay $30 million for upgrades to FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Browns.
Following a four-hour debate, the council passed the ordinance. The city will pay $2 million over the next 15 years — money obligated to the NFL team per a lease agreement — to help fund a $120 million renovation of the 15-year-old facility, which is owned by the city.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner unveiled their plans for the stadium makeover earlier this month and their proposal was tentatively agreed to by the City Council last week, pending a final vote.
"I'd like to thank Cleveland City Council for voting to approve the city's contributions to the renovations of one of the city's most valuable assets — FirstEnergy Stadium," Mayor Frank Jackson said.
"I'd also like to thank Jimmy Haslam and the Cleveland Browns for the significant investment they will make in our stadium. This type of private investment in our City is essential to our continued success."
The Browns are financing the entire project by using a $62 million loan from the league and money from the city. The stadium improvements will include two giant scoreboards, escalators to better pedestrian traffic and a new state-of-the-art sound system.
Several council members argued the city should be using money for other needs.
The Browns intend to begin the first phase of the project shortly after the final home game.
"We respect the process we went through with City Council and Mayor Jackson and appreciate their support for this project," Haslam said in a statement released by the team.
"We look forward to moving ahead with the renovation of FirstEnergy Stadium. We know it will positively impact our fans' experience and our community will be proud to showcase the transformed home of the Browns for the rest of the country."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org