CLEVELAND -- Since taking a majority ownership in the Cleveland Browns last October, Jimmy Haslam, and his chief executive officer Joe Banner, have made it a top priority to enhance the fan experience, and one of the most visible places they looked to improve was FirstEnergy Stadium.
In an effort to improve the fans’ gameday experience, Banner talked about some of the team’s goals for FirstEnergy Stadium at the Midtown Cleveland, Inc., luncheon Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re finally at the very last phase of the analysis we’ve been doing with architects, with builders on what we think is needed and what we think is most important, getting some cost specificity and make the list of what we can and cannot do,” Banner said.
“The architects we’ve been working with have done a great job of creating a vision for some changes that can be made that are both respectful of the history and elements of the stadium that are good and strong and that people enjoy, and also, some things that will really enhance the look and the feel. Playing in the stadium, I think, will be more enjoyable. I think we’re excited about the ideas we have, and being able to show everybody, I think they’ll be enthused about it as well.”
The audio system and scoreboard at FirstEnergy Stadium are two of the focal points in the renovations expected to take place over the next two offseasons.
“The life-expectancy of a scoreboard in an NFL stadium is 10 years, and we’re entering year 15,” Banner said. “In our case, we’ve been notified by the manufacturer that in the next year or two, they plan on stopping the manufacturing of the replacement parts because there’s no one using one like this.
“We just met with the experts in this area that came and did an analysis in this area. They said to us, ‘The potential sound quality at a stadium is 1 to 10. What you have right now is a two. Based on some of the configuration issues, the best you could probably get is a seven to seven-and-a-half. You can’t build a 10 here.’ It’s one of the things we’ll get rectified here. We can get to a massively enhanced experience from what it is.”
During the next two offseasons, the Browns are also looking to improve lines of sight to the field and beautifying the stadium on a cosmetic level.
“We think there’s some way to increase the capacity of the lower bowl, maybe at the expense of seats in the upper bowl, which will give more people to have a better perspective on the game and sit in a better seat,” Banner said. “The concourses aren’t as wide as you’d like. Some of the concession stands could be updated, cleaned up and have better signage.
There’s a lot of things like that that are very basic, painting and carpeting that a stadium that’s 15 years old needs. Those are the things we’re looking at. We’re getting close to finalizing the list.
“With the investment that was made in these facilities, I think it’s important to keep them in good condition, to keep them as good showcases, to keep them as comfortable and safe environments. As they get older, it takes more to do.”