PHOENIX — Dee and Jimmy Haslam said Monday at the NFL Annual Meetings they remain committed to upgrading the Browns' stadium — with the primary goal of renovating FirstEnergy Stadium in accordance with the City of Cleveland's plans to upgrade waterfront area between Lake Erie and downtown.
The Haslams, who have focused on upgrading the stadium since they became owners of the Browns in 2012, have remained in communication with Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and the city as plans for upgrading the waterfront come together.
"Cleveland would benefit tremendously from the development of the waterfront," Jimmy Haslam said. "Having the stadium down there seems to be in everybody's best interest, so we're committed to redoing the stadium. In all likelihood, it's not going to have a dome, but it'll be a substantial remodel of the existing facility, and we're probably three, four, five years away from that happening."
The Haslams expressed excitement for how the waterfront transformation would impact the city, which would benefit from having more attractions, businesses and community spaces located near the water.
"I think the mayor has a really good plan," Jimmy Haslam said. "He's working really hard. We're loving working with him and his team to put forth the best plan for Cleveland. And we want to be part of the story and help out any way we can. We believe it's critically important for the development of downtown to be an attractive city. The best cities in the country have great waterfronts, and I think it's really critical."
The Haslams and the city are currently in the process of building those plans based on community feedback, and they expect a more concrete plan to be built by the end of the year.
"I think it's a year-long phase," Dee Haslam said. "We're hoping to help out in any way we can. It's a long process, but I think they're doing it right because they want to make sure they have a lot of community input on how it works and what the community wants."
Once the city has a foundation for how it plans to renovate the waterfront area, the Browns will be able to make a stronger push forward for how they could upgrade FirstEnergy Stadium, which has served as the home of the Browns since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999.
"There's a lot of infrastructure that has to go into connecting downtown, which is the first thing that has to happen," Jimmy Haslam said. "We've got to connect downtown to the waterfront, right? Everybody knows that. So you've got to relocate the highway … I do think the city, the county and the state are working together well, but there's a lot of hoops to jump through."
The Haslams will continue to provide their full backing to the city throughout the process.
"I think we're just going to support the mayor and their plan," Dee Haslam said, "and I think whatever they ask us to do, we will. We'll be willing to help out in any way we can.