Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Although just 13 years old, Cleveland Browns Stadium is starting to show it’s age.
In January, the Browns asked the city for an advance on stadium repair funds to fix rusted seats, deteriorating concrete risers and the plazas that surround the stadium.
The cost of the project totals approximately $5 million.
Earlier this year, after some negotiating and a debate, the city approved a plan to allow the Browns to front the money for the repairs and allow the team to be reimbursed later this year by using an advance on annual dollars that are set aside for capital improvements for the stadium from “sin tax” revenues.
Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson was not surprised when the needed repairs were brought to his attention late in 2011.
“No, I’m not surprised,” Jackson said. “I knew that they needed to make some repairs in order to get ready for the opening game and some other events that will happen before the preseason.”
Besides fans, the location of the stadium plays a factor in wear and tear on the facility – mostly due to the harsh weather conditions on the lakefront including strong winds and ice.
The Dawg Pound and south club level have taken the most abuse and are receiving the bulk of the work.
“It’s good that they’re maintaining (the stadium),” Jackson said. “We have a capital (improvement) plan that we actually contribute dollars to that plan, so it’s working out.”
Outside, sections of the plaza’s that surround the stadium have been roped off while they are also repaired.
Cleveland Browns Stadium isn’t the only building that is starting to age.
2013 will mark the 20th year that Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena will have been open.
Behind the scenes both facilities are showing their age.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has basically taken control of the upkeep and maintenance of Quicken Loans Arena and has poured nearly $30 million into the building since purchasing the Cavaliers in 2005.
There have been rumors that Gilbert has even more elaborate plans to reconfigure The Q but no definitive details have emerged.
While fans continue to give the Indians grief over the club’s payroll, Larry and Paul Dolan have also spent 10′s of millions of dollars since buying the team in 1999 to keep Progressive Field in shape and up to date.
The ballpark clearly needs a paint job and many other repairs.
The Indians are privately exploring potential renovations to the seating bowl with the team’s attendance nowhere near the 42,000 that showed up for 455 consecutive games.
Who will pay for them has yet to be determined.
Jackson is aware that keeping all three buildings in top condition will cost money.
“They’re facilities and they take wear and tear,” Jackson said. “The team’s have taken pretty good care of them so that’s been beneficial to all of us.
“Anytime you have these kind of facilities you’re going to have to put some money into them because if you let things go that are minor they turn into major things.”
The repairs to Browns Stadium this year are just the tip of the iceberg.
A ballpark, stadium, and arena construction boom has emerged across the country as teams have leveraged their municipalities for brand new taxpayer funded palaces.
Sadly, the Cleveland Browns are to blame.
Voters nationwide have thought ‘If the Browns could leave Cleveland, so could our team,’ and as a result voters approved the measures.
When they haven’t, the teams have moved or are trying to.
There is no immediate danger of that conversation brewing again in Cleveland with any of the three teams but in the big business of professional sports, clubs want new state of the art facilities or upgrades to their existing homes to generate more revenue.
With major local issues – including aging and crumbling infrastructure, roads and schools – where will the money come from?
The conversation will start with the Indians and Progressive Field – sooner rather than later.