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Renovations 'key' to culture change

Posted Aug 19, 2013

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam spent $5 million renovating the team’s Berea training facility with the goal of attracting and retaining the NFL’s best and brightest.

When Jimmy Haslam was unanimously approved as the new owner of the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 16, 2012, he spoke of changing the environment within the organization and setting out on a course to create a “winning culture.”

Haslam furthered that commitment during his first offseason as an NFL owner by approving a $5 million renovation which revamped 37,000 square feet of the 90,000-square-foot Berea training facility, and brought an additional 68 people from FirstEnergy Stadium to Berea.

On Monday, Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner gave the Cleveland media a tour of the renovated facility.

“I think we’ve changed the culture very dramatically,” Banner said. “I think it’s going to take longer to change the direction. I think it’s going to take a lot longer to change the perceptions outside to what we think is starting to happen.

“We’re in a ‘prove it’ business. Over time, we’re confident we’re going to do everything we can to prove it. Internally, it’s changed very dramatically. I’d be surprised if anybody said they weren’t optimistic and confident that we’re going to get to where we say we’re going to get to. Outside is going to take time. We’ve planted the seeds.”

In changing the culture within the organization, attracting and retaining the best talent were key elements of the Browns’ renovations.

“Our big, overriding goal is to create  a place where we could attract the best people in sports to want to come and work here, have them walk in the office and feel like it felt right, and create an environment where once they got here, we’d really get a chance to hold on to good people for a long time,” Banner said.

“When Jimmy made the investment in renovating this place and wanting this to be a first-class place, in his mind, in my mind, the primary rationale was attracting good people, creating this continuity that we want in creating an environment so that even as we get good enough that people are hiring our employees, there will still be a really good case to be made for why this is the place they want to stay.”

By attracting and retaining the best people in sports to work in the front office, Banner feels that is “the key to winning.”

“As we bring people in here, I think they’re going to walk in and it’ll be a totally different feeling than they would’ve gotten last November,” Banner said. “Whether it’s a coach or somebody in the business area, somebody whose involved with enhancing the fans’ experience, I think we’re going to be in a position to attract and keep them.

“I think it’s important to be thought of as an organization that has an owner who’s willing to put the money out there and run a first-class organization. We ask our players to go out and, literally, risk their health every Sunday. They need to know that the people they’re working with are doing everything they can to be the best they can possibly be. That’s an important message. On all fronts, I think that will help us.”

Click here for a photo gallery of the tour.