Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin presents council's plan to purchase and forgive medical debt.
Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin presents council's plan to purchase and forgive medical debt. Credit: Nick Castele / Signal Cleveland

Representatives from the Cleveland Browns briefed Council President Blaine Griffin on Tuesday on the team’s lease negotiations with the city.

Team chief operating officer David Jenkins and general counsel Ted Tywang gave Griffin a high-level overview of the Browns’ talks with Mayor Justin Bibb, according to a council spokesman. 

The spokesman, Darryle Torbert, described the meeting as brief. He declined to share the dollar figures discussed. 

The team’s current lease to use the city-owned lakefront stadium expires in 2028. Team owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam have publicly said they would like renovations to the stadium, which the city built in 1999. 

Bibb met privately with the Haslams last November. The team has completed an assessment of the stadium, which has not been released publicly. The city is expected to conduct its own audit of stadium capital repairs later this year.

Neither side has said how much renovations would cost – or how much taxpayers would kick in. 

After his State of the City speech last month, Bibb said he wants to shield the city’s general fund – which pays for basic city services – from stadium maintenance costs. 

“We have to be creative with how we address this issue, because I’m no longer going to risk general revenue fund dollars for maintenance of a privately-owned football franchise,” the mayor said

The doesn’t preclude the city from using other public dollars. Cuyahoga County voters in 2014 extended the life of a tax on alcohol and cigarettes to pay for maintenance at all three professional sports stadiums downtown. The city has been paying off the stadium’s original construction costs with money that includes parking and admission tax proceeds. 

Bibb has said that he sees stadium renovations as part of a larger development along Cleveland’s underused Lake Erie shoreline. 

He has proposed creating a new North Coast Development Corporation to oversee lakefront projects. Last month, the administration requested legislation to spend $3 million in federal stimulus dollars on a long-discussed land bridge connecting downtown to the lakefront. Council has not yet held a hearing on that appropriation. 

Government Reporter (he/him)
Nick joins us from the world of public radio. He has more than a decade experience covering politics and government in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. In 2021, he produced and hosted "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor," an Ideastream Public Media podcast on the Cleveland mayoral race. He has also covered breaking news, opioid lawsuits and elections nationally for NPR.