CHICAGO -- Leadership is not the only thing changing in Cleveland. Jimmy Haslam, the Browns' new owner, told media gathered at the NFL fall meetings that he envisions changes to Browns Stadium as well. Changes to the stadium are part of Haslam's effort to improve the experience for long-suffering fans there.
"We've been very public in Cleveland that we're going to look at everything, except the helmet tone," Haslam said. "We do want to enhance the stadium to make a great experience for the fans. What that looks like, I don't know. I'm not a stadium guy. We're going to look at it, because it's all about the fans."
Haslam has been clear about his desire to fix up the stadium. In August, he discussed the stadium with the Cleveland City Council. An offhand remark about putting a dome over the facility sparked a small tsunami of shock.
"What I've learned is that in the NFL you have to be really careful when you say something like that," Haslam chuckled.
"Is a Dome a possibility, yes. I'm not smart enough to tell you if it's a 2 percent or 50 percent. We'll investigate and see. We do want to have more activities at the stadium. It's good for the city, the county and the state and it's good for the Browns brand.
"What Randy told me the first time I met him 'remember this is really an asset of the community.' I think that's good advice."
Browns Stadium is also an asset of the community, 73,000-seat bowl sitting on 31 acres of land. The City of Cleveland owns it. The stadium opened in 1999, two years and $349 million after breaking ground. It was built as part of the arrangement to reactivate the Browns franchise after "The Move."
Haslam would not comment whether or not stadium renovations would require another public investment.
"I think it would be premature because I don't have a clue how much money we're going to spend," Haslam said.
The next step is a further evaluation by architectural firms specializing in stadiums. The primary concern for Haslam is making the stadium more fan-friendly. Some of those improvements may not require any money. Haslam pointed out hanging more banners in the stadium and changing the music played over the PA system.
"When I was with the Steelers and I would go to another stadium, I didn't really pay attention to is it fan friendly or is it not," Haslam said. "And now I pay close attention and I think there are some things that need to happen over the next one, two, three or four years."
New decorations, better music or even a roof over head only go so far in improving the experience for fans.
Haslam was forthright in the chief improvement he needed to make in Cleveland, "let's face it, the best thing is: have a good team."
"One of the first things we're going to do is have the quality architects around the country that specialize in this kind of work come in and take a look at things. We need to have some enhancements for the fans. When I was with the Steelers and I would go to another stadium, I didn't really pay attention to is it fan friendly or is it not. And now I pay close attention and I think there are some things that need to happen over the next one, two, three or four years."