If Field of Schemes has an origin story, it almost certainly begins on the day in 1995 when Joanna Cagan came to a meeting of our Brooklyn Metro Times zine and complained about how the Cleveland Browns were moving to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and the NFL was shaking down Cleveland for hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium money in order to provide a replacement team. So it’s more than a little weird to be reading this:
The Cleveland Browns have begun long-term discussions about a development project that could include a substantially renovated stadium or a new facility at a different site in downtown Cleveland.
Well, sure, the old place is 19 years old! Gotta be thinking about a new one!
Browns co-owner Dee Haslam told ESPN that a new stadium could be a decade out, but that really she just wants the Browns to be about helping contribute to the growth and revival of Cleveland, because that’s what football is all about, or something:
“The main thing is to start the conversation, at some point,” said Haslam, who agreed to the interview after ESPN learned of the talks. “I don’t know that we’re ready to start the conversation, but we are ready to get all the information we can about what’s possible.
“So I think it’s really important to find out what’s possible. There could be a lot of great ideas that we might not be able to do because it’s not feasible for one reason or another. I don’t want to get the horse in front of the cart until we’re knowledgeable enough to know, because we’re not informed enough to know right now.
“But we do know that we have a desire to make a bigger impact on the future of Cleveland.”
Okay, so clearly this is very preliminary, which makes sense, as the Browns’ lease at the stadium taxpayers built for them in 1999 runs until 2029 (by which time “it could be one of the league’s oldest facilities,” helpfully notes ESPN, which, hey, surprise for you guys, it’s already in the older half of NFL stadiums because those things are like goddamn mayflies). Also clearly, it’s Haslam noting that Cleveland is starting to explore ideas for downtown redevelopment, and thinking, we should try to get us some of that action, and then when questioned by ESPN spouting a lot of nothing about “making an impact” because what else is she going to say, really?
What would have been nice would have been for ESPN to ask: So, why does downtown Cleveland still need redevelopment focused around a football stadium when it just built a football stadium 19 years ago on the premise that it would help redevelop downtown? But that’s probably a bit much to expect from a network that has a $1.9 billion a year business partnership with the NFL.