By HARLAN SPECTOR
The Plain Dealer
Incoming Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told Cleveland City Council members Wednesday he would consider a dome for Browns Stadium, but he stopped short of endorsing the idea.
Haslam addressed the issue briefly in response to a question from Councilman Michael Polensek, who urged dome talks between the city and the Browns in order to get more use out of the city-owned stadium.
Haslam, accompanied by Browns general counsel Fred Nance, said he will bring in architects to offer ideas for the stadium. He agreed the city should get more use out of the facility.
“Anything that helps us do that ... we’re certainly going to take a look at it,” he said.
Haslam’s response mirrored what he told The Plain Dealer in an interview in August. He said then, “We have spent some time at the stadium. We’ll have three really well-known stadium architects walk through. I do think there’s some enhancements for the fans that need to be done. What, I don’t know.”
The Browns have a 30-year lease that requires the city to put $850,000 a year into repairs. That money comes from a countywide tax on alcohol and tobacco sales. But the so-called sin tax expires in 2015.
Earlier this year, contractors did more than $5 million in stadium repairs, including refurbishing seats and replacing, repairing and waterproofing concrete. Browns officials said weather had taken its toll on the facility, which opened in 1999.
Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Flying J travel centers, bought the Browns for about $1 billion and is awaiting NFL approval as owner.
The council’s meet-and-greet with Haslam was largely a light-hearted affair. He spoke of being overwhelmed by the city’s intense passion for the Browns, and council members reflected that by engaging in football talk.
Council members brought up the 1964 Browns championship, the draft, the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and a dissection of Red Right 88, the ill-fated passing play that sank the Browns’ 1980 playoff run