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Economy and Business

NFL commits to covering half the cost of improvements at Browns stadium
But someCleveland officials are waiting to hear what the city's share of capital improvements might be

Kevin Niedermier
FirstEnergy Stadium is getting $62.5 million from the NFL, about half the cost of capital improvements including new scoreboards and sound systems.
Courtesy of FirstEnergy
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The NFL will pay for just over half of the projected repairs and improvements to the Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium.

At its annual owners meeting this week, the league approved spending more than $62 million on the facility. The Browns estimate the total renovation cost is $120 million , and expect make the improvements over the next two off-seasons.

As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, Cleveland officials are still waiting to see what the city’s share of improvements to the 15-year-old stadium might be.

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In its lease with the Browns, the city of Cleveland is obligated to contribute $850,000 a year for stadium repairs and maintenance, and pay for any emergency repairs. That money comes from the countywide sin tax, which expires in 2015.

Last year, the city spent nearly $6 million on stadium repairs. It is required to help fund the bigger project capital improvements only if the money is available.

Cleveland City Council recently approved paying the consulting firm URS $400,000 to do a capital repair audit at the stadium. That review is expected to be completed in January. Councilman Mike Polensek says the city should not be pumping extra money into the stadium.

“We all have some concerns, ... and we’re going to be pressing those issues. And I would say to the Browns and to the NFL, 'If you want to enhance the stadium, thank you and God bless you, with your funds.' But we have other pressing issues in the city. We need more police, street repairs, recreational programs. I could give you a litany of areas we need substantial improvements in.”

The Browns organization and Cleveland administrators have not returned calls seeking comment on the stadium plans. And the NFL is not commenting.                                                                                                    

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