Concerns about how much the city of Cleveland should contribute toward upgrading FirstEnergy Stadium for the Browns were understandable, given the plight of many neighborhoods and a long list of other priorities. But the deal approved this week by the City Council, under which the club will shoulder most of the cost, hardly clashes with past commitments.
Under the arrangement, the city will contribute $2 million a year for 15 years toward the $120 million improvements package, which include bigger, flashier scoreboards, faster escalators and a higher quality sound system. The Browns will finance the rest. The team also will gain new influence over how maintenance money set aside from the Cuyahoga County sin tax is spent.
After all, Cleveland is Browns Town for a reason. The city and its residents have made a commitment, financially and emotionally, to the team. The deal reflects that bond, plus the city’s obligation to maintain the 15-year-old stadium it owns. In return, the team pumps money into the local economy, a boost that will increase when work on the stadium gets under way.
During the debate, one councilman complained about cities being held hostage by their contracts with NFL teams. If that’s so, Cleveland and the rest of Northeast Ohio have been most willing victims, fans rallying to the cause no matter the weather, record or score.