Cleveland Browns should build a roof and plan for Super Bowl L

According to PFT, the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys will both be bidding to host Super Bowl L in 2016. For those who aren’t good with Roman numerals, that means Super Bowl 50. We all know that the Browns have never appeared in a Super Bowl or hosted one. While we can’t guarantee that the Browns will ever compete in a Super Bowl, recent history with Indianapolis and Detroit hosting Super Bowls tells us that we could host one if we had a roof on the stadium. Much like Browns fans proved with Peyton Hillis’ Madden cover, we are a powerful group of people. Is it time that we finally controlled our own destiny and got a Super Bowl hosted in the city of Cleveland by building a roof?

I know this is always a controversial idea because Browns football is rooted in history of playing outdoors. Then again Browns football is also rooted in the history of the late 80s that also never produced a trip to the Super Bowl. As hard as we’ve rooted, the Lerner family hasn’t been able to deliver more than a single playoff game. So maybe it is time to take control of our own destiny and at least get in the running to host a Super Bowl.

A retractable roof isn’t cheap. The estimate for the retractable roof in Minnesota accounts for about $200 million of the $791 million stadium budget. The bulk of the materials to build the retractable roof in Indianapolis approached the $100 million dollar range. So, it obviously isn’t a cheap proposition. The positive economic impact isn’t small either.

The NFL wildly overestimates the economic impact of the Super Bowl coming to your town in all likelihood. Some people spout off numbers like $500 million which is kind of crazy. It might be $500 million if you didn’t have to expend any money to earn that $500 million. But let’s say the impact is a couple hundred million. It should pay for the roof all by itself.

In addition to that, it gives Cleveland a venue to host more events. I won’t pretend that the concert industry is doing well or anything. The number of stadium acts that can play rock concerts isn’t high. Still, if you add a festival and a couple of country acts per year that would be nice. In addition you can host high school playoff football like they do in Indianapolis. Point being that it could turn into a public hub for activity double as many times per year as it does right now pretty conservatively without much issue.

Yes, we might have to sell the naming rights to the stadium to defray the cost. Yes, we might have to invest some tax dollars to make it happen. Yes, it does change a bit of the culture around the football team. But you know what? Bernie Kosar isn’t walking back through that door to throw touchdown passes to Webster Slaughter. Hanford Dixon isn’t breaking up anymore passes either. The only portion of the culture that lives is being drunk and cold as players hate to play here. Maybe free agents still wouldn’t flock to Cleveland, but at least it wouldn’t be an impediment.

Certainly the best way to turn the Browns around and attract free agents is to instill a winning culture. Players don’t mind playing in Pittsburgh where the winters stink too. And who knows? Mike Holmgren and company could be doing that, but just in case they’re not, we should take control of what we can control as fans. We proved our power with Peyton Hillis and the Madden cover. Now it’s time to take on something bigger and even more fruitful.

[Related: NFL Draft: Of misdirection and mocks…]

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  • cmm13

    The running dialogue between the “football traditionalists” and the “economic strategists” is interesting.

    From a purely economic standpoint it was one of the biggest mistakes in the city’s history to build the stadium without a dome in the first place.

    I remember dozens of articles during construction on the unbelievable lost revenues with that size stadium unable to be used for almost 5 months out of the year for anything besides a football game.

    Just my opinion that if you were going to put a roof on it the time would have been during the initial construction when the city was at a fever pitch for the team to return and would have said “yes” to anything in order for the Browns to return.

    The taxes imposed on the county to build it would have been swallowed much easier by the residents than coming back now and saying “we’d like to raise your already highest sales tax in the state to fix the problem we created 10 years ago.”

    In addition the “football tradionalists” would have most likely swallowed the “dome pill” easier because it still meant the Browns were coming back.

    It’s not impossible to put the milk back in the glass; but it sure is hard to do it after you’ve spilled it.

  • Cleveland Browns Stadium was not originally designed to have a retractable roof.  Thus there would probably be major cost involved in making the addition of a retractable roof structurally feasible.  It’s not as easy as simply slapping a retractable roof on.

    The figures you stated are don’t include the cost of redesign, which I have to believe would be substantial.  I’m not a structural engineer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • Haden’s Jersey

    I understand both sides of the argument.  But I am all for the retractable roof.  It gives the city an extra 5 months of use of the stadium for non football related events.  Although taxes will increase for this, I believe the additional revenue will offset these taxes(eventually).  Isn’t the city trying to revitalize downtown currently with the aquarium and other projects?  This would be another step in a vibrant downtown. I know football is supposed to be played outdoors, you can keep the roof open till weather gets bad.  Although we will not have those unique games in the snow anymore, I think 5 more months of use of the stadium is worth more than 3 games in the snow.

  • mgbode

    ok, more time than just for a 1-liner.   keeping football traditionalism aside for a moment (though I would rather sit through a football game in the cold than the heat of Arizona).

    The populace of Cleveland did a collective freak-out when it was reported that the Cleveland Browns wanted an advance of $6mil on what was owed and set aside for them by the city for maintenance to the stadium as agreed to in the original lease.

    Imagine the outrage when it’s suggested that an extra $200mil be invested.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’ll take less time to build a roof then the team!  If not for the rush to get a team back, boy that turned out well, perhaps more thought could have been put into the construction.  Kinda like the entire organization.

  • MOARwins

    A roof plus the new casino, when it opens in 2014 would be cool.  Any new construction downtown is good in my opinion.  However the way the browns play they should turn that factory of sadness into a Lane Bryant outlet store.

  • That’s an incredibly stupid argument. 25 hotels won’t be built for one Super Bowl. Places like Indy with new domed stadiums who have way more going on than Cleveland don’t have enough hotels to host a Super Bowl.

  • Syrino

    Not enough hotel rooms to host a SB

  • Hermie13

    I can think of a lot if things Cleveland has done dumber than not building a retractable roof stadium….

  • Hermie13

    Not a structural engineer either (though am an engineer). You hit the nail in the head. Its not just the cost of a retractable roof but the design costs that could be a killer. If materials alone cost $100M for the roof look for total cist of adding it to be around $400M at least.

    Plus….where do the Browns play during this reconstruction? Would take at least a year to do. Progressive Field wasnt built with playing football in mind.

  • My suggestion wouldn’t be that the Browns come begging for money, but rather we as a community would drive to make it happen. It had a far different dynamic in my mind, but I think you do make a good point about the pragmatic realities of the situation.

  • I am going to be generous and say that there 15 events total every year in Cleveland Browns Stadium (8 regular season games, 2 preseason, and MAYBE a few other random outdoor events).  There are 365 days in a year.  Even if hosting a Super Bowl is not possible there are so many other events that could be hosted in domed stadium. Think NCAA basketball and Final Four even a crappy Bowl Game. Then think beyond sports. How many conferences could be held in an enclosed stadium? and concerts? The lakefront would get redeveloped really fast if thousands of people were around the stadium on a more consistent basis. Businesses would be tripping over themselves to move in.  A roof is better for the city. Whats better for the city is better for the Browns.

  • shootseven

    No Dome.  What Craig Lyndall doesn’t take into account regarding a Super Bowl is lack of hotel space.  On top of that, is it worth it to ruin the experience of outdoor football and  (if they ever play January football again) the home field advantage in a playoff run.  Time and time again the fans have answered no.

    And I don’t even understand the part about hosting high school playoff football.  Can’t they host that anyways outdoors?  How does a dome help?

  • shootseven

    And how many free agents do you think really don’t sign here because they have to play in the snow?  As with fans and everyone else, some may hate it, while others embrace it.  I’ve seen plenty of blizzard games (think the NE game a few years back where the seats were covered in snow) and the players seems to have a great time.

  • shootseven

     It’s not improving that much, and no one is going to build a hotel for one Super Bowl.  What will they do with all of those rooms when it’s not Super Bowl week.

  • Guest

    It simply isn’t possible from an engineering standpoint to add a roof to an existing stadium. You would essentially be building a new stadium surrounding the existing one.

  • Manningup2210

    The sales tax would be over 8 percent if they did that.

  • mgbode

    fair enough.  if the Browns and perhaps Gilbert w/ the casinos decided it was worth an investment, then maybe there could be a stretch where they covered it.

    I just do not see them being able to make an economically beneficial decision for themselves without money from the community and I do not think the community would embrace it.

  • TOM


  • shootseven

    So the stadiums in Pittsburgh, New England, and New York are jokes?

  • Henry Brown

    I would just rather play in a Super Bowl than host one.

  • MarcomTim

    Nice thought, you minimized the simple fact of how this $150 million plus venture would be paid for and if the stadium could even be retrofitted with a roof. Plus, to say that a covered stadium would assure Cleveland of getting a Super Bowl anytime soon is absurd. The city is in financial dire straits today. By the time the Super Bowl circus came to town we might be “Closed for business.”

  • Great Article! The other problem is that there are too many major teams in Cleveland. This takes away from the money to fill the seats. We have to get rid of either the Cavs, the Browns or the Indians for one of the others to win a title. Too many teams dilute the money that will make one team rise up. We even have minor league hockey with record attendance eating away at the money.

  • VMI1998

    There are only three players that were on the roster in ’07 that are still with the club…Thomas, Jackson, and Dawson. To that I say “What core?”

  • VMI1998

    I’m a mechanical engineer, and the only way you can put that much of a load on an existing structure is if it was originally designed to handle such a load. If they thought that they may one day put a roof on the stadium, then they likely poured a sufficient foundation and built a strong enough support structure. If they did not, you’re talking a brand new stadium.

  • Guest

    Dude, why are you shouting? Go home and take your ritalin.

  • Myrlin

    Since no one else brought it up, I will. I disagree with selling naming rights to places. It should always be called Cleveland Browns Stadium, Just as I always refer to the Indians Stadium as Jacob’s Field and if I’m traveling to a game I refer to their stadium by the team’s name. We all have enough to worry about without this nonsense. Before long they’ll be selling naming rights with weekly rates!!! You’ll have to keep a calander to remember what places are called. Beyond that I’m against eliminating the weather from football games. I’ve played backyard football in the snow and mud for free, these guys are making millions doing the same. Do we really want to put all this money into a stadium rebuild, and structurally speaking it would likely be a complete rebuild, for a chance to host a Superbowl once every 20-30 years?

  • Mary Smith… eating away at other sports… If your a sports fan, you will go and watch your team. I love baseball and will go to cavs games. I dont go to the hockey games (they are not pro, they are minor league). I hate the cold and football has too many breaks in the action with commercials. I went to one football game about 10 years ago because my dad took me, Im 24. If baseball was taken away I would never go watch hockey still… I would not start to go to browns games for the same reasons i dont go now and I will go to the same amount of cavs games, if they are winning. All that will do is take away money I bring to the city for the 5 months I would visit for baseball. The more things in the city the better.

  • Browns, too little too late and honestly, and adding a roof won’t help.  The 49ers and Cowboys plan to bid because they know there stadiums can hold over 70k people and for Superbowl L, it will be BIG.  The 49ers should probably get a local Bay Area Band, I’d say Green Day or Metallica.  If Dallas, they should get one of there Country Rock pop stars.

  • Grazieguy

    Bad call…the core of Cleveland, downtown relies on ALL of these teams. The owners need to invest more (Lerners, Dolans!). The city coul reap benefits…WE paid a half a billion dollars for a stadium the barely gets used. Doming it would allow it to be used year round. A retractable done would be great for summer events as well.

  • Love it. Great point