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Browns, Cleveland inch toward a familiar story line


That “

” on the shore of Lake Erie could soon be creating plenty of frustration in Cleveland.

Less than 20 years after Art Modell loaded up the truck and moved to Baltimore due to the unwillingness and/or inability of Cleveland to build a new football stadium, Browns 2.0 may soon find themselves in a stare down with city officials regarding the new football stadium that the city gladly found a way to finance after Cleveland lost its NFL team.

Mark Naymik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains that the Browns have requested $5.8 million from the city for improvements to the venue. The amount represents an acceleration of an annual payment of $850,000 that the city agreed to make for repairs and upgrades.

Basically, the Browns want the next six years of the money right now.

Here’s one problem with that. The maintenance fund flows from a “sin tax” on alcohol and cigarettes. The tax expires in 2015, a date that comes before the six years covering the lump sum that the Browns want will have expired.

A separate challenge comes from the fact that the lease requires the city to pay a total of $29 million for upgrades and repairs over the 30-year lease, which has 17 years remaining. Naymik believes the stadium will require much more than that amount through 2029. Which could mean that, at some point, the Browns will be clamoring for a new stadium.

One way to raise the money would be, as Naymik suggests, to sell the naming rights to the current stadium.

“We need change,” Naymik says. “We need a better way to pay for stadiums. And we need a football team that finally merits our decision all those years ago to quickly build it a $300 million home on the lakefront.”

Wow. It’s a good thing he put those strong views in the paper deliberately, and not on Twitter by accident.

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