Browns President Alec Scheiner led a tour showing off the new additions to FirstEnergy Stadium.
Cleveland Browns team president Alec Scheiner on Thursday gave ClevelandBrowns.com a comprehensive tour of the club's ongoing renovations at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Announced in Nov. 2013, Phase II of the two-year modernization primarily focuses on the interior and exterior design of the stadium and concourses, and it's nearing completion.
In extensive surveys and meetings with fans, Scheiner and team owner Jimmy Haslam concluded FirstEnergy Stadium should reflect the city of Cleveland.
The first area members of the Dawg Pound will notice are new permanent concession stands with a Cleveland chef and cuisine theme, an expansion of the offerings that were brought to the main concourses last year. The 100 levels will feature Michael Symon's B Spot, Chris Hodgson's Downtown Dogs, Jonathon Sawyer's Sausage and Peppers and Rocco Whalen's Great Lake Cheesesteaks. Additionally, C-Town Eats and Cleveland Cocktail Co. have been spread throughout the concourses while all 35 concession stands have been remodeled.
"Bringing all of our premium food down to everyone was a big deal to us," Scheiner said. "Bringing in the local chef concept is something that will make the game day experience more unique."
LED lighting around the concourses sounds like a simple upgrade, but it has without a doubt brightened up the area. And artwork on the walls – from Paul and Jim Brown, to murals of downtown Cleveland and The Dawg Pound – have drastically changed the feel of the stadium.
Club and suite areas inside the stadium also received a significant facelift, as the Browns focused on adding more top-level entertainment areas and updated all amenities in those areas.
Club 46 is a brand new field-level hospitality area, something that was not available in the past. Located directly across from the locker room, Browns fans will enjoy a cocktail and food lounge with unparalleled access to the players as they run out of the tunnel and onto the field.
Upstairs, the Cleveland Club takes the place of Grill Club and has been expanded by 2,820 square feet. Multiple bars have been added to help with spacing, making the flow of traffic much smoother and lines shorter with additional points of sale.
On the north side of the stadium, replacing Browns Town, The Draft Room is a new all-inclusive premium club that is modeled after the wildly popular nightlife area on West 25th Street in Ohio City right on the outskirts of downtown Cleveland. The Draft Room features historical references to when players were drafted. Joe Haden is one of many prominent players featured. Other areas include the Lake and City Clubs, the former of which boasts a fantasy football area with 42 TVs.
Every suite has been re-done, too. New art, carpet, paint, furniture and televisions have been added to give it a more modern feel.
"Before, this looked like any stadium in the country," said Scheiner. "Now, you know you are in Cleveland."
Last August, Phase I of the renovations completely changed the stadium experience for Browns fans. LED video boards and a new state-of-the-art audio system were added. The team increased lower-bowl seating, created sponsor decks for fan and alumni engagement and supplied more entrances and escalators for smoother fan movement inside the stadium.
Scheiner, who is entering his 12th NFL season, most recently worked for the Cowboys and was involved with the team's stadium construction before arriving in Cleveland. He's visited all but one stadium in the NFL and says FirstEnergy Stadium is now on par with the newest state-of-the-art facilities and game day experiences on Sundays.
Maybe most important of all, the players have noticed a difference.
"The players are much more in-tuned with this than we imagined," Scheiner said. "Last year when we were on the field before the game, I had coaches and players come up to me and say, 'I've never heard it this loud in this place.' That's what we need. We want to create that type of home field advantage."