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Have Browns Owners Honed In On New Location For Future Stadium?

As negotiations continue over the Browns future stadium plans, team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have purchased a plot of land near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

What a tangled web the Browns future stadium negotiations weave.

Much of the conversations over where the Browns will play football long-term have happened in closed door meetings between the city of Cleveland and team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam. Suddenly, the latter party has made a strategic move that could point to a new potential location for a future stadium.

According to a report from Ken Prendergast of the NEO Trans Blog, the Haslam's are finalizing a purchase agreement for a plot of land spanning 176 acres in Brook Park that could become a viable space for the next Browns venue. The parcel of land is nestled about 1,000 feet from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, sitting near the southeastern side of the airport property between Snow Rd. and Route-71. 

It's unclear at this time if the Haslam's are truly purchasing the property with the intent of building a new stadium for the Browns, but news of the transaction will certainly stir up speculation of that being the plan. It could also simply serve as a leverage move by the owners to use in negotiations with the city in order to urge city officials to meet their demands for a new space.

Just last month, Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb expressed that keeping the Browns home on the lake in downtown was a priority for him and other city leadership. Money is always the biggest factor in these projects though and Bibb has to weigh how much city money can realistically go into such a structure. The report notes that a city source doesn't believe the Haslams would make this move with the intent of putting leadership's feet to the fire, noting however that Cleveland hasn't been made aware of the deal to this point.

Ultimately though, if this purchase of the Brookpark parcel ends up becoming an option, it could mean the Browns would play their home games outside of the city for the first time in the team's 78-year history. This new property is located about 12 miles from the team's current venue, Cleveland Browns Stadium on the Lakefront.

Building a stadium on this new property would also bring the Browns entire operations within a closer proximity. The team's Cross Country Mortgage Campus practice facility is just five minutes away from Cleveland Hopkins Airport, in Berea. There are already plans for expansion of that building as well, with the Haslam Sports Group acquiring plots of land in the surrounding neighborhoods to the complex.

For what it's worth, 12 of the 32 NFL teams currently play home games in stadiums outside of the respective city they're associated with. Time what this recent purchase by the Haslam's means for the stadium negotiation process and if the Browns become the 13th team to follow that trend.

Last summer, Jimmy Haslam promised that the team won't be leaving the area like what happened under Art Modell in 1995. He made no guarantees that the team would remain downtown though. "The only thing Dee and I would say for sure is we’re not leaving Northeast Ohio, that’s for sure,” Jimmy Haslam said in July 2023. “Our preference is for us to be on the lakefront."

There's also the matter of whether or not a new venue would be an open air or domed facility. The cost difference between the two options can be upwards of $1 billion more to have it enclosed.