Browns announce $120m in stadium upgrades, won’t say who’ll pay for them

Okay, it’s definitely Announce Stadium Plans But Refuse To Say How They’ll Be Paid For Week: First the Atlanta Braves, then the Virginia Beach mystery arena, and now the Cleveland Browns have announced $120 million in renovations to their stadium, with money coming from we’re-not-gonna-tell-you:

 The Cleveland Browns announced Wednesday a two-year plan to deliver $120 million in upgrades to the “fan experience” at the city-owned FirstEnergy Stadium –- including a new scoreboard, audio equipment and physical changes that would allow fans to move about more freely…

Browns CEO Joe Banner declined to discuss financing during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, revealing only that the organization has acquired what amounts to a loan from the NFL that could cover about half of the expense.

In a written statement, Mayor Frank Jackson said that he supports the improvements and that the plan “meets structural requirements and will enhance the fan experience here in Cleveland.” Details for financing the project, however, are still in discussion, Jackson wrote.

Talk of extending the “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarettes (seriously, that’s all the sins that Cleveland could come up with to tax?), which paid for new stadiums for the Browns and Indians and is set to expire in 2015, to fund upgrades for both teams has been kicking around for a while now, but there’s been no formal proposal as of yet. And from the sound of it, there may be considerable resistance on the Cleveland city council:

“The sin tax went toward establishing the infrastructure and keeping it safe and secure,” [city councilmember Jeffrey] Johnson said. “This is different. This is about who can have the biggest scoreboard and bragging rights. And the ownership is just trying to create a stadium that they can show off and enhance their reputation without really enhancing the benefit to the average citizen.”

Councilman Michael Polensek agreed and said he would vote against the city chipping in to pay for the renovation. He pointed out that $120 million could hire more than 1,000 police officers or ameliorate the city’s entire abandoned housing problem.

“I’m weighing the glitz and glamor and the hype associated with sports teams against the reality of life,” Polensek said. “The majority of my citizens can’t even afford to go to a game. And you want me to go back and ask them to dig into their pockets and ante up for the Cleveland Browns? I’m looking to Jimmy Haslam and his folks to have a civic soul. Corporate leadership must try to understand our plight, and so often they fail to do that.”

“I’m looking to the local sports team owner to have a soul.” I guess people have hoped for crazier things.

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