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Ohio leaders punt on the possibility of paying half the cost of a Cleveland Browns stadium

Cleveland Browns fans walk toward the stadium for a home game on Dec. 10, 2023.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Cleveland Browns fans walk toward the stadium for a home game on Dec. 10, 2023.

Officials with the Cleveland Browns have approached some state lawmakers about money to build a new domed stadium in a suburb or renovate the existing one on the lakefront. There’s no official plan yet, but the request could go as high as $600 million, or a quarter of the overall cost.

The state put in $20 million plus a $25 million loan to help with the new stadium for the Columbus Crew in 2021, and kicked in $50 million for the Cincinnati Bengals facility around 20 years ago. But Gov. Mike DeWine said this request is potentially a lot of money, and the state can’t play favorites with funding.

“When you do something with one stadium and one team, that obviously creates a desire all the way through, to do it multiple times," DeWine said in answer to a question at a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum. "And that that is what the legislature and I have to be cognizant of and think about as we look at kind of one-off proposals: what is this do to every other team in the state?”

The district of House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) is on the Ohio River, 260 miles from downtown Cleveland. He wasn’t specific when saying the state can help in other ways besides handing out money for construction of a new or renovated stadium.

"I think that's a better way to to approach it from the state government's standpoint, is either some sort of organize some sort of formula or some sort of financial vehicle that enables investors to have these type of sports teams," Stephens said.

He added: “We don't have $600 million to give. It's really easy to not support it when you don't have it.”

Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) is from the Cleveland area.

"I think that we don't have a proposal before us for me to consider that right now, but it gives me great pause," Antonio said.

When asked about the idea, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said simply, "I don't have an opinion about that."

No funding for a new or renovated Browns stadium has been requested in the capital budget now under discussion. But there's a possibility it could come up in the next one in 2026.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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