The Cleveland Browns are going to have a significant improvement in their fan experience at FirstEnergy Stadium, which could lead to a greater home-field advantage for the team.
Team president Alec Scheiner led a hardhat stadium tour on Monday of two dozen members of the media to show them the progress in the construction of the two-phase, $120-million project.
Scheiner and Browns representatives visited all 31 other stadiums in the NFL, new and old, before deciding on the scope of phase one of the renovations. The Browns' front office came to a realization: the stadium technology was out of date, meaning fans may not be as into the game as they could.
"When the video boards and audio systems work really well together, the impact is huge," said Scheiner. "When you are in a stadium that is outdated, you almost feel like you are missing something."
The video boards will revitalize what can be described as a subpar fan experience in years past.
The Browns will now possess one of the largest screens in the NFL and they'll be approximately three times the size of the old ones. The Browns aren't just fitting the video boards into their old location either. The construction team has rebuilt entire platforms to house the giant televisions.
Additionally, Browns fans will have access to fantasy football statistics and real-time scoring updates. Included in the upgrade is an all-new audio system, a vital tool in energizing the crowd.
"I think people will feel a totally different way about coming to Browns games," said Scheiner.
The Browns will be down from 72,000 seats to approximately 68,000 in 2014. Scheiner said the seats were removed to enhance the lower-bowl experience for fans. Escalators are being added near both end zones to help the flow of traffic before and after games. The infrastructure will look and feel more modern.
Phase two will begin immediately following the conclusion of the 2014 season. The focus will be more on interior suites and better lighting throughout the concourses.
Most of the Browns' renovation is complete, but there is still construction going on daily at FirstEnergy stadium. On Monday, 204 workers were chipping away at seats and fitting molds for escalators.
Even with numerous work days canceled due to cold and snow, the project will be finished on time for the preseason home opener against the St. Louis Rams.