FirstEnergy Stadium has served as shelter for the Cleveland Browns for nearly 23 seasons of brutal football. Country music star Kenny Chesney has performed on the field three times, the turf has hosted numerous United States National Team soccer events, and countless other acts.
But according to sources identified by Cleveland-based blog NEOtrans, the Browns aren’t long for the “Factory of Sadness.” Owner Jimmy Haslam’s ownership group is identifying viable spots in the Cleveland area capable of hosting a brand new, multi-billion dollar project.
Haslam – reportedly unhappy with the condition of FirstEnergy – wants to join the new age of stadiums built around the league as year-round facilities. The Minnesota Vikings lead by example in that department, showcasing the range of usages of its relatively new U.S. Bank Stadium, hosting climate-controlled concerts in the winter and college basketball’s Final Four in 2019.
The Cleveland Browns and Haslam certainly aren’t the only owners in the league with a piqued interest toward moving from an outdated facility; FirstEnergy claims the title of 11th-oldest around the entire league.
Soldier Field – home of the Chicago Bears – opened in 1924, but currently boasts the lowest seating capacity in the league. Chicago’s ownership is in the process of closing on an old horse track in the city’s suburbs. The Buffalo Bills appear hellbent on ditching their home since 1973, and the Washington Commanders recently entered the process of pinpointing potential locations for a new facility.
When Haslam purchased the franchise in 2012, one of his first moves was selling the naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium. With the organization on the rise and the fanbase as raucous as ever, his next move likely spells the end for the team’s run at its home for more than two decades.
Browns Heavily Involved in Offseason News Cycle
Jimmy Haslam’s yearning for new digs is a small piece of the pie that is the Cleveland Browns offseason. Upon a grand jury’s decision to not indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on criminal charges stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct, Cleveland sent a massive haul to Houston for the embattled star.
Once the franchise acquired Watson, it felt like only a matter of time until last year’s starting quarterback Baker Mayfield would join the unemployment line. However, four months later, Mayfield still resides on the roster, albeit excused from participating in offseason activities.
The team employs three quarterbacks with heavy starting experience: Mayfield, Watson and Jacoby Brissett. With the NFL concluding its investigation into Watson’s misconduct claims from 24 Houston-based women, and as the quarterback battles an equal amount of civil lawsuits pertaining to the matter, it’s unclear who starts Week 1 for the Cleveland Browns.