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Browns, Cleveland inch toward a familiar story line

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That “factory of sadness” on the shore of Lake Erie could soon be creating plenty of frustration in Cleveland.

Less than 20 years after Art Modell loaded up the truck and moved to Baltimore due to the unwillingness and/or inability of Cleveland to build a new football stadium, Browns 2.0 may soon find themselves in a stare down with city officials regarding the new football stadium that the city gladly found a way to finance after Cleveland lost its NFL team.

Mark Naymik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains that the Browns have requested $5.8 million from the city for improvements to the venue.  The amount represents an acceleration of an annual payment of $850,000 that the city agreed to make for repairs and upgrades.

Basically, the Browns want the next six years of the money right now.

Here’s one problem with that.  The maintenance fund flows from a “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarettes.  The tax expires in 2015, a date that comes before the six years covering the lump sum that the Browns want will have expired.

A separate challenge comes from the fact that the lease requires the city to pay a total of $29 million for upgrades and repairs over the 30-year lease, which has 17 years remaining.  Naymik believes the stadium will require much more than that amount through 2029.  Which could mean that, at some point, the Browns will be clamoring for a new stadium.

One way to raise the money would be, as Naymik suggests, to sell the naming rights to the current stadium.

“We need change,” Naymik says.  “We need a better way to pay for stadiums.  And we need a football team that finally merits our decision all those years ago to quickly build it a $300 million home on the lakefront.”

Wow.  It’s a good thing he put those strong views in the paper deliberately, and not on Twitter by accident.

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38 Responses to “Browns, Cleveland inch toward a familiar story line”
  1. aequitas83 says: Jan 27, 2012 8:55 AM

    The only way the Browns change in the near term is if they stop selling out for a perennial 5-11 team. When Lerner starts feeling it financially, then maybe he will notice. That corporate structure is a cesspool of failure.

    By the way, I’m a Browns season ticket holder for many years who is canceling my tickets.

  2. spellingcops says: Jan 27, 2012 8:57 AM

    I’ll give em $100 if I can name it Dumpy Sh*# Hole.

  3. kazra182 says: Jan 27, 2012 8:57 AM

    “And we need a football team that finally merits our decision all those years ago to quickly build it a $300 million home on the lakefront.”

    BOOM. Roasted.

  4. makhan250 says: Jan 27, 2012 8:58 AM

    Why do you keep taking shots about the Grossi thing? Are you really that offended that an employer fired a sub-par employee after he made a stupid mistake?

  5. fran021 says: Jan 27, 2012 9:02 AM

    They could try the Bob Kraft financing formula: Pay for it yourself.

  6. theravenlives2 says: Jan 27, 2012 9:02 AM

    Hey, wait. You mean the leaders in Cleveland are having trouble keeping their football stadium tennant happy? Maybe they can do what they did in 1996, when they kept telling Art Modell, “you’re next,” and “next” never came. Somewhere in the northern suburbs of Baltimore, Art Modell is laughing his ass off.

  7. maryannwiththeshakyhands says: Jan 27, 2012 9:03 AM

    You gotta love how the sin tax got the factory of sadness built and pays to maintain it but as of about 3 years ago they no longer let you smoke a damn cigarette anywhere on the premises. No smoking sections at all, you would have to literally leave the stadium and buy another ticket to get in. After about 5 minutes of watching the product they put on the field you are definitely ready for for a cig or to take up the habit of smoking if you haven’t already.

  8. clintonportisheadd says: Jan 27, 2012 9:06 AM

    The next step in the process is guaranteed to be a threat to move the team.

    So you can add Cleveland to the list that includes the Vikings, Raiders, 49′ers, Chargers, etc of teams blackmailing citizens to subsidize a highly successful and very profitable private business with taxpayer money.

    Once again we see the wisdom of those fans that participate in and own shares in the Packers. Despite uninformed negative comments from jealous posters on PFT, these Packer followers (for the price of an “official” NFL jersey) never have to worry about what city their team will end up in. Never have to worry about a gun being put to their heads by a greedy owner (and his extended family that all suck at the corporate teat) telling them to give them tax money or he calls up Mayflower.

  9. TheWizard says: Jan 27, 2012 9:09 AM

    It’s like alternative energy.

    If it made economic sense, there would be no need for tax dollars. Private enterprise would fund it.

  10. Gordon says: Jan 27, 2012 9:10 AM

    Gotta love corporate welfare.

  11. nflgreedleague says: Jan 27, 2012 9:15 AM

    WOW! I hate to say it but congress needs to get involved and force these Billionaires to maintain and build their own money making venues before our bankrupt municipalities can’t build roads or hire teachers. So our tax dollars are now to ensure the profit margin of the 1%, good job Roger Goodell!

  12. arcaero says: Jan 27, 2012 9:17 AM

    Where is the NFL general fund and their fat TV contracts and new 10 year collective bargaining agreement in all of this? How about chipping in a little, League Office? Times are tough all over, but especially in C-town. How about re-investing some of that $530 Million that Al Lerner paid the league for the franchise back in 1999?

    The Browns get the Stadium, parking and concession revenues for a whopping $250,000.00/yr rent from the city of Cleveland. That must really cut into their bottom line!

    What’s wrong with this picture??? GREED.

  13. goblue714 says: Jan 27, 2012 9:25 AM

    I’m sure the city profits alot of money off this stadium, from concessions, taxing the players game checks. I’m tired of hearing everyone crying their broke when it comes to the NFL.

  14. malignantsociety says: Jan 27, 2012 9:28 AM

    if we could only find some sort of revenue stream for these owners to finance their own stadiums…

  15. aequitas83 says: Jan 27, 2012 9:39 AM

    @TheWizard – You obviously have absolutely no clue when it comes to economics.

    Tax dollars spent on stadiums is debatable, but there are plenty of services or ventures that require the dissemination of risk that tax dollars provide.

    This is particularly the case when private industry can either (1) externalize a large portion of their costs, thereby requiring public funding to “pay” for those costs, or (2) the rewards are so externalized that it does not justify a single private entity to take on the risk, thereby requiring public funding to “pay” for the rewards coming their way.

    Anyway, to followup on my earlier comment – The Browns need to get it together before they lose their fanbase. Kids in NE Ohio are growing up fans of the Pats, Packers, GB, Eagles, etc. because there is no entertainment value in watching the Browns. There is a big hole that the Browns need to fill (and quickly) if they plan on being sustainable.

  16. bbb82 says: Jan 27, 2012 9:41 AM

    “Less than 20 years after Art Modell loaded up the truck and moved to Baltimore due to the unwillingness and/or inability of Cleveland to build a new football stadium”

    Actually, Modell tried to get the city to fund a renovation of the old Municipal stadium. The proposal went on the ballot and was actually passed. But he moved the team anyway. Tony Grossi might not mention that one, but Terry Pluto would.

  17. brownsclown says: Jan 27, 2012 9:41 AM

    Yes. I agree.

    If he puts those comments on Twitter he will be covering the Afghani Soccer League with Tony Grossi.

  18. mattmillen4president says: Jan 27, 2012 9:50 AM

    I’ll contribute to a pool that ends up naming it “Factory of Sadness Stadium”. Who’s with me?

  19. sixaspadz says: Jan 27, 2012 9:51 AM

    The Jake = Progressive Field
    The Gund = Quiken Loans Arena

    DO NOT change the name of the stadium. It is and always will be CLEVELAND BROWNS STADIUM!!!

  20. seatown12 says: Jan 27, 2012 10:04 AM

    We buy the tix
    We rock the Jerseys n gear
    we buy the Memorabilia
    We pay for overpriced beer, food, and parking
    Pay for your own private stadium. We pay enough.

  21. ghostofgilchrist says: Jan 27, 2012 10:05 AM

    isn’t UPS the perfect partner for naming rights?

  22. theravenlives2 says: Jan 27, 2012 10:20 AM

    Actually, Modell tried to get the city to fund a renovation of the old Municipal stadium. The proposal went on the ballot and was actually passed. But he moved the team anyway. Tony Grossi might not mention that one, but Terry Pluto would.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Gee, we can tell you’re from Cleveland in that you have conveniently omitted a few facts.

    Yes, it did pass, about a week AFTER Modell anounced he was moving the team. Polls showed that BEFORE he announced the move, the measure would have been defeated handily. The civic leaders in Cleveland had 4-5 years to make him happy, but just couldn’t seem to get it done. No they are dropping the ball again.

  23. vikingdoode says: Jan 27, 2012 10:21 AM

    City built and paid for a stadium to owner of a private organization a “x” year agreement between parties. I’d think if owner of private organization wants improvements to deal he agreed to. Personally pay for the improvements your self and submit a tax rebate!

  24. realitypolice says: Jan 27, 2012 10:49 AM

    sixaspadz says:
    Jan 27, 2012 9:51 AM
    The Jake = Progressive Field
    The Gund = Quiken Loans Arena

    DO NOT change the name of the stadium. It is and always will be CLEVELAND BROWNS STADIUM!!!
    ===============

    Get over yourself. Who cares what the name of your stadium is?

    How dare a team go to a city and demand taxpayer dollars when they so blatantly leave an obvious source of revenue on the table.

    Not naming your stadium is literally saying no to free money. If I were a citizen of Cleveland, I would be outraged the that the team would so brazenly transfer it’s own burden onto the taxpayer’s shoulders.

    The city was insane not to have the lease written so that the Browns were required to use every available resource to generate revenue, including selling naming rights, before dipping their mitts in the government till.

    I’m talking to you, too, Cincinnati. Geez, what is it with Ohio?

  25. sloozeronymous says: Jan 27, 2012 11:12 AM

    The Browns are like your high-school girlfriend who seemed really awesome at the time. Even though she was sort of high-maintenance, she was hot, she was cool, she made you look good, and you were loyal to her till the end, even though she’d never quite go all the way.

    Then she broke your heart and left, and after an existential crisis and soul-searching, you had pretty awesome run of dating someone else in college (go Tribe!). But it wasn’t quite the same for you, so you finally got her back.

    Know what? You now realize she’s not that great. In fact, she sort of really sucks…she peaked in high school, but now just gives you endless headaches. Maybe it’s time to let the fond memories be fond memories, and sadly, but w/out regret, break ties and move on. You’d both be better off in the long run.

    (Besides, that college girlfriend is starting to look pretty good again by comparison.)

  26. godofwine330 says: Jan 27, 2012 11:44 AM

    I could say keep the name “Cleveland Browns Stadium” but financially I understand the reasons. I would personally hate “I Hate Steven Singer” field, but if they are willing to pony up millions per year over a period of 10-30 years than great.

    Football is a money making business and stadiums aren’t cheap. The name of the stadium is irrelevant. . A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, and a stadium by any other name would still be home of my beloved Browns.

  27. chocopoppy says: Jan 27, 2012 11:48 AM

    I’m not sure which is worse, the decades of failure or those horrible colors. I can’t stand either one. “If it’s Brown flush it down!!!””

    Sincerely,

    A Bengals fan

  28. audient says: Jan 27, 2012 11:58 AM

    I’m 40 years old, and haven’t watched a Browns team contend since I was in high school. Is it any wonder the kids root for other teams?

    For the record, I was a Browns season ticket holder for 9 years, and gave them up in 2008. It just wasn’t fun to go down there any more.

    Yes, sell the naming rights. I don’t know who’d want them at this point, but maybe the Cleveland Clinic.

  29. buffalomafia says: Jan 27, 2012 12:58 PM

    Same thing is happening in Buffalo!

    How could you expect tax payers to foot the bill when the owner puts a bad product on the feild for the last 12-13 years?

    Ralph Wilson should pay the bill himself!

  30. bbb82 says: Jan 27, 2012 2:02 PM

    “Yes, it did pass, about a week AFTER Modell anounced he was moving the team. Polls showed that BEFORE he announced the move, the measure would have been defeated handily. The civic leaders in Cleveland had 4-5 years to make him happy, but just couldn’t seem to get it done. No they are dropping the ball again.”
    ————————-

    Hey, Modell is the only man to own an NFL team in the modern era and actually lose money. He owned the stadium. It’s his own fault he was a horrible business man.

  31. bbb82 says: Jan 27, 2012 2:06 PM

    “Yes, it did pass, about a week AFTER Modell anounced he was moving the team. Polls showed that BEFORE he announced the move, the measure would have been defeated handily. The civic leaders in Cleveland had 4-5 years to make him happy, but just couldn’t seem to get it done. No they are dropping the ball again.”

    By the way, when the Gateway complex was built for the Indians and Cavs, Modell was offered a place for the Browns. He said no, he wanted to renovate his stadium instead.

  32. rcali says: Jan 27, 2012 3:37 PM

    Tobacco that paid for the stadium, Bad.

    $8-10 beers causing unruly fans, fights, bad language, stabbings, Good. As long as the owner makes his money.

    Interesting.

  33. rajbais says: Jan 28, 2012 6:59 AM

    $5.8 million for improvements?????

    Don’t you overpay crappy players that much????

  34. brownsapologist says: Jan 28, 2012 7:31 AM

    I hope Cleveland doesn’t give in and pay Lerner any money in advance. He has not done anything to improve the team he never wanted in the first place, since they fell into his lap, why give him any extra incentive to keep his crap circus around for one minute longer? But Cleveland could help itself out with money if they could actually use the stadium for something besides one country music concert and a few high school games. That place is empty 350 days a year! Take a hint from the Indians with their Snow Days. And get some money for naming rights! I don’t know why anyone would be against that! They’d be stupid not to. Does Key Bank Stadium really sound that bad?!

  35. TheWizard says: Jan 28, 2012 1:22 PM

    the rewards are so externalized that it does not justify a single private entity to take on the risk, thereby requiring public funding to “pay” for the rewards coming their way.

    Hogwash.

    The free market, when not interfered with, is more than capable of recognizing rewards. The people don’t need big government types to make such decisions for them.

    You reek of a government employee.

  36. hedphurst says: Jan 29, 2012 10:37 AM

    aequitas83 says:
    Jan 27, 2012 8:55 AM

    The only way the Browns change in the near term is if they stop selling out for a perennial 5-11 team. When Lerner starts feeling it financially, then maybe he will notice. That corporate structure is a cesspool of failure.

    Lerner won’t feel anything if fans stop spending money on the Browns. I’ll admit I’m no financial expert, and I’m not completely sure how net worth is calculated. Lerner’s net worth is reported to be $1B, while the Browns’ value is currently listed at $977M, and Lerner’s Aston Villa soccer team was valued at $240M in 2009. Between the two teams, and his Bank of America stocks (inherited family fortune after Al built MBNA), the man could simply give away the Browns today, and still live a life of luxury the rest of his days.

  37. hedphurst says: Jan 29, 2012 10:44 AM

    buffalomafia says:
    Jan 27, 2012 12:58 PM
    Same thing is happening in Buffalo!

    How could you expect tax payers to foot the bill when the owner puts a bad product on the feild for the last 12-13 years?

    Because having a losing team in town is still better for the city than having no team, in most cases. Area hotels, restaurants, bars, parking lots, etc all depend on pro sports teams for a lot of their revenue. By extension, a lot of people who are completely unaffiliated with those teams actually depend on the teams for employment.

    Having a winning team is clearly better, and some cities have plenty of other options to generate income (convention centers, concert halls, museums, amusement parks, etc), but others can’t afford to lose a team. Especially cold-weather cities like Cleveland and Buffalo that don’t draw much tourist activity…

  38. zerodime says: Jan 30, 2012 1:42 AM

    Cleveland’s UPS stadium – Brown can suck for you too!

    But realistically, the Cleveland Clinic was salivating over the naming rights back in 99 but the Browns didn’t give up the naming rights. Sell the rights to the Clinic and then by default keep “Cleveland” in the stadium name.

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