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Pluto says fix the Browns first, then start talking about a roof
And even then, he says, a $100-million-plus stadium roof should come on Haslam’s dime, not Cleveland’s.   

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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Cleveland city officials are in talks with incoming Browns owner Jimmy Haslam about building a retractable roof over the stadium on the lakefront. A meeting last week ended with Haslam agreeing to bring in a few architects…but no one is talking about who would pay for the project.  WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks to Amanda Rabinowitz about why the city of Cleveland should not get in the dome business. 

Terry Pluto commentary audio

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"Focus on what's happening on the field, not what's covering it"
WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says the focus of the new Browns owner should be on what’s happening on the field at Brown’s stadium, not what’s covering it.

Jimmy Haslam has met with local officials to talk about the possibility of putting a dome over Browns stadium, at a cost of $100 million or more. Pluto says the city and the county would be crazy to put a dime towards that. For that matter, he says, Haslam should have different priorities.

“Fix your football team, and not a lot of people are going to care whether its 15 below or 80 degrees or raining.

The natural elements define some fans 
“In fact, when I’ve written books about the Browns from the Browns fans’ (perspective), the weather is a big element of it; … ‘I was there in the Ice Bowl when Brian Sipe threw the interception,’ or ‘I was there when Bernie was playing and it was pouring rain.’ It’s like part of the setting.

“The fans here are not that freaked out by the fact that they have to get cold,… but they are totally bonzo about the fact that the team’s terrible.”

Luring a Super Bowl isn't worth it
Part of the sell for the roof is that the stadium could be used for other events, and could lure a Superbowl to Cleveland. Pluto says it’s a common pitch, and it usually ends in disappointment.

For evidence, he says, look to Detroit, which built a stadium with a dome, got the promised Superbowl and, “Guess what? Downtown Detroit is still downtown Detroit.”

In a baseball park, cities are guaranteed 81 games a year. With places like Quicken Loans Arena and even the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State, nearly four dozen basketball games are augmented by concerts and other events.

With a football stadium, “it’s football,” Pluto says. And if the Browns do go for a roof, they’re likely to lose even football games for a year or two during construction.

Wins equal stadium personality
Pluto acknowledges the old Municipal Stadium was abysmal and had to be replaced. And the new Browns Stadium “looks like the waiting room of the motor vehicles bureau. You can tell it was a government project; … it has about as much personality as walking into your dentist’s office. The only thing missing is the magazines lying around.”

Still he says the investment needs to be in a winning team, not a facility. Then, “you’ll have people who will bring some personality into that faceless sort of place.”

Listener Comments:

Maybe we should look at it the other way. Maybe by brining
a little glitz/hollywood by adding amenities, cheerleaders etc
could generate more money, fan interest, free agents etc., because the current product isn't cutting it. Old school football may work in fine in some cities, but it isn't working here.

Posted by: Rob M (Charles Town, WV) on September 26, 2012 9:09AM
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