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After a season in which they won 11 games, brought home an AFC Wild Card spot, beat Pittsburgh in a playoff game, and took the Chiefs to the brink in the AFC Divisional playoff game, the Cleveland Browns are suddenly the darlings of the NFL.
With a team full of stars, many fans are starting to take notice that for the first time since the mid-80s, the Browns are a force in the NFL.
That also means changes could be coming to Cleveland’s lakefront, an area near the Browns’ home stadium that masses of fans must make their way through to attend ball games on Sundays.
Haslam Sports Group — which, along with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, owns the Browns — wants to improve the lakefront situation. So they presented a proposal about their ideas to the city’s Virtual Finance Committee.
Included in the proposal is a park-like land bridge over State Route 2 and the railroad tracks by the Browns’ stadium.
The hope is to link the lakefront area around FirstEnergy Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of downtown.
“What our vision is is a more robust, active space,” Lanie McKinnon of Nelson Byrd Woltz said during the presentation.
The Haslams, who have had their share of controversy since taking ownership of the Browns back in 2012, are very much in favor of the project and making the lakefront in Cleveland a better place for fans.
“We appreciate the opportunity to help further Mayor Jackson’s vision for properly connecting downtown to Cleveland’s greatest natural resource, the lake,” Dee and Jimmy Haslam said.
“Lakefront connectivity has long been a complicated issue for our region, and a long-term solution has been elusive. Our preliminary vision, led by a landscape architect with experience around the world, intends to create a transformational pedestrian pathway unlocking public spaces and significant development opportunities on the lakefront. It would create year-round destinations accessible to our entire region.”
How long such a project might take and how to fund it are two major questions the city and the Haslams need to answer. If they do, Cleveland will have a great look and convenient access to its stadium.