This has been on my mind for several weeks, since the Browns presented the City of Cleveland with a bill for about $8 million for routine repairs to the Stadium. It’s all legal. It was part of the deal when the taxpayers built the Stadium and turned it over to the Browns. The people continue to pay and pay.
This reminded me of Art Modell’s deal with the City and the great difference between then and now. When Art leased the old Stadium from the City in the early 1970s, he was responsible for all repairs and maintenance. Upon being handed the keys to the old place, his people took a closer look and discovered the entire place needed rewiring. Art got a bill from the electrician for one million bucks. He paid it. Next, he got a plumbing bill for a million bucks. He paid that, too. Every winter the storms that blew down from Canada ripped the roof off. Every spring Art repaired the roof. Modell continued to pay and pay. He paid the bills from the rent paid by the Indians and Browns.
In the early 1990s the City built Jacobs Field and presented it to the Indians with a red ribbon tied around it. That left Art with the old Stadium and with the same expenses, but his revenue stream was cut in half. Essentially, the City stole his major tenant and did not reimburse him.
And then Mike White was surprised and angry when Art packed up the Browns and moved to Baltimore. “I had no choice,” Modell said, which is true.
You might think there is a lesson here — that the City of Cleveland better continue to support the Browns in the lap of luxury or they might move. Relax. I don’t think there’s a chance. What city would want them?
That’s all today.