Report: Art Modell rejected Cleveland stadium offer

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Art Modell was eulogized last week. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


The death of former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell last week elicited both praise and disdain from NFL and Cleveland communities.

Mark Naymik, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, calls out Modell, questioning his revisionist history and motives for moving the Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season.

Today, the consciences of a couple of old-guard Cleveland politicians give us a long-hidden fact about Modell's departure. Specifically, when Modell claimed he would have stayed if city leaders had offered to build him a stadium, he was lying.

He was offered a new stadium.

At the Gateway sports complex.

He rejected the offer, years before leaving.

Naymik quotes George Forbes, president of Cleveland's city council in the late 1980s, who negotiated with the city's professional team owners during the planning stages of the Gateway project that eventually included an arena for the Cavaliers and a ballpark for the Indians.

Forbes told Naymik that he and others asked Modell and the Browns to be a part of the development.

Forbes said he remained quiet for decades out of respect for Modell, whom he considered a friend. "I have thought about this meeting every time it was written or televised that no one made an offer to build a stadium," he said. "My words are to set the record straight about the governmental institutions and our involvement."

"Art was my friend and a good man, and I didn't want to get into it," Forbes said. "I didn't want to pour hot water on a scalding dog."

But Forbes said he's long been bothered by the narrative that government failed Modell.