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MX News Update 2024

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Dee Haslam says the Crew complex has provided classes for the new Browns stadium

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It didn’t take long for Crew owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Pete Edwards to realize they may have underestimated fan support when they built Lower.com Field in the Arena District.

“We didn’t build it big enough,” Dee Haslam said Tuesday. “We learned that pretty quickly because we have a huge fan base.”

The almost three-year-old stadium has a capacity of 20,139 seats. Last Saturday’s match against CF Montreal, which ended 0-0, attracted a record crowd of 20,927 fans, even more than the attendance at last season’s MLS Cup final on December 9.

“It’s considered the best stadium in MLS,” said Haslam, interviewed by Ohio Chamber President Steve Stivers at the Columbus Museum of Art for the chamber’s annual State of Business Summit.

The stadium has drawn attention to the city and has become a template for other stadium designs, including Northwestern’s new football field, she said. The stadium has also been chosen to host this year’s MLS All-Star Game.

“The fans have come out and they have really made such a difference in the way our players feel about our own stadium,” she said.

Cleveland Browns domed stadium?

The stadium context comes as the Haslams continue initial work on a possible new stadium for the Cleveland Browns, who they bought in 2012. The Haslems also co-own the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

“It’s incredibly complex,” she said. “There are a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

Two ideas are being considered: renovation of the existing Cleveland Browns Stadium along Lake Erie or a domed stadium in suburban Brook Park near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

“We have two great opportunities,” she said. “We are very excited. One of the things we care about is the things for the fans. We are not doing well with that at the moment.”

One of the issues is parking and access to the stadium, she said.

The value of a domed stadium is that it can be used for events other than Browns games, such as hosting Big 10 championships, concerts and basketball games, said Haslam and her son-in-law, JW Johnson III, executive vice president of the Browns. and a partner of the Haslam Sports Group.

The recent NCAA Women’s Final Four in Cleveland generated an estimated $30 million for the local economy, Johnson said.

“How you can do that on a regular basis is super important,” he said.

Regardless of which option is chosen, Haslem said the lakefront will need to be redeveloped.

She recalled her first trip to Cleveland in 2012, when she asked someone if she wanted to take a walk along the lake.

“He looked at me like I was crazy. There’s no way to get to the lakeshore,” he told her.

It was at that moment that she became passionate about the need to redevelop the lake.

“How you can have this incredible city and not have access to the lakefront,” she said.

Regardless of how the project progresses, it will require the kind of public-private partnership it took to build Lower.com Field, Johnson said.

“We need a public partnership to create these great stadiums,” he said.

“It’s not just about us,” Haslam said. “It’s about what’s best for the state. What’s best for the region, what’s best for the city of Cleveland.”

“Those relationships are very important to us. We will be here for a long time.”

Haslam and Johnson recognize that such partnerships require commitment from taxpayers.

“We go into the process of how to be good partners, not how to win. … We also recognize that taxpayers need to have a return,” she said. “It has to be a good use of their dollars.”

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@BizMarkWilliams