Browns propose stadium upgrades

The Cleveland Browns on Wednesday announced a proposed $120 million in improvements to FirstEnergy Stadium, a facility that is 15 years old.

Prime among the improvements are two gigantic video boards that will be added behind each end zone. The new scoreboards are three times larger than the present video board and will take 3,000 seats from the stadium.

Some of the seats will come from the upper deck of the Dawg Pound, but CEO Joe Banner said the team will not touch the "traditional" Dawg Pound, the lower-level seating area behind the east end zone.

The Browns declined to say if they will ask the city of Cleveland to pay for any of the improvements.

"We would not be respecting the mayor or City Council to answer that right this second," Banner said, adding the answer would be evident quickly and that the team would be transparent about its plans.

Banner did say the Browns have been approved for up to $62.5 million in loans from the NFL to cover half the price of the upgrades.

Stadium capacity will go to just more than 68,000, with an increased percentage of lower-level seats.

The stadium is owned by the city of Cleveland, with the Browns possessing a team-friendly lease through 2028 that requires them to maintain the stadium. The city is responsible for emergency repairs, but the city believes the lease makes the team responsible for upgrades.

here will be no shift away from natural grass. The team also decided that a dome or retractable roof was not a wise investment, with Banner noting it would cost in excess of $100 million.

"Our inclination is that football is an outdoor game played on grass," he said.

Banner said the team will meet with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and the City Planning Commission on Thursday to go over the proposal. He said since the city owns the stadium, the Browns cannot make upgrades without approval.

Improvements will take place in two phases, with the new video boards and added escalators for upper-deck seating complete by the 2014 season. Other improvements will be to club seating areas and concessions.

The investment will not directly affect the team's future decisions on ticket prices, Banner said.