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Cleveland Browns plans reignites debate over public support for sports stadiums

First Energy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, stands across the railroad tracks.
Tim Harrison
Ideastream Public Media
First Energy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, stands across the railroad tracks.

Two of Cleveland's sports teams are once again asking for public dollars to help offset stadium costs.

The Cleveland Guardians are improving their team shop at Progressive Field and recently requested the city use $500,000 in taxpayer dollars to help cover the $1 million price tag.

While the Guardians ask is a recent development, the Cleveland Browns have been grabbing headlines this year with news that they could construct a new stadium in Brook Park and move the team there. It is either that, or the owners, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, request the City of Cleveland help with millions of dollars in renovations to the current stadium on the lakefront.

Back in 1999, the cost of the Browns stadium was about $285 million, and the percentage of that money that came from public funding was almost 75%.

For this new round of funding, the team owners are looking to other sources to cover the cost. The Haslams recently asked the state of Ohio for $600 million that would go towards the construction of a new stadium.

Tuesday on the "Sound of Ideas," we'll take a deep dive into how sports stadiums are funded, what has worked in the region and what could be the landscape going forward to pay for not only new facilities, but updates to existing ones.

Ken Silliman, a longtime public servant who worked in several mayoral administrations in Cleveland, has a new book that documents 30-plus years of sports facilities funding in Northeast Ohio.

He'll join us in studio, along with Ideastream's Glenn Forbes and Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross, who has been studying the subject for more than 25 years.

- Ken Silliman, Attorney, Former Chief of Staff to Frank Jackson, Author "Cleveland Sports Facilities: A 35 Year History"
- Victor Matheson, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Accounting, College of The Holy Cross
- Glenn Forbes, Supervising Producer of Newscasts, Ideastream Public Media

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.