How long, exactly, have we been doing this stadium-watch stuff? Long enough that the very first conversation my Joanna Cagan and I had about possibly writing something together was when her hometown of Cleveland was talking about building a new stadium for the Browns at the same time that their school system had been placed into receivership. That stadium eventually opened in September1999 (one year after the first edition of Field of Schemes came out), and that was almost 20 years ago, people, so of course the Browns owners (who of course aren’t the same Browns owners as they were then) want something new, and that something new is … a bridge?
The team, as the Haslams reiterated Tuesday, is hoping a pedestrian bridge can be built over State Route 2 that would better connect FES to the city…
A pedestrian bridge was originally supposed to be completed prior to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
But a 2014 proposal was scrapped. Another plan, as Crain’s reported in February, is being discussed, but the potential price — which would go well beyond the $25 million raised for the 2014 proposal — is a sticking point.
The proposal, if you click through, is actually for a “land bridge” that would build a 5.3-acre park spanning railroad tracks and the highway, which you can see why it would cost more than $25 million. And while it wouldn’t be entirely for the Haslams’ benefit — there are also plans for housing development near the stadium, and also of course Cleveland residents would get a small park out of the deal — it sounds like the Browns owners are going to make themselves front and center in pushing for such a plan.
How much more than $25 million could a deck park cost? Here is a helpful paper titled “Cost-Effectiveness of Capping Freeways for Use as Parks” that notes that Freeway Park in Seattle, which is similarly a 5.2-acre deck park above a ground-level highway, “came at a relatively low cost of $18 million per acre.” That would price a Cleveland bridge-park at $95.4 million, which is a chunk of change, though obviously a lot less than building a new stadium. Though co-owner Dee Haslam also said that they would “make improvements to the stadium,” and didn’t say who’d pay for that, so we could still be looking at a nine-figure ask, but at least it’s a lot less than a billion dollars for a new stadium, and oh here comes our old friend anchoring again!