NFL owners voted Thursday to approve a $5 billion plan to build a $1.5-billion stadium for the Cleveland Browns, and they approved the measure after a lengthy and contentious public debate that included threats of litigation by a group of prominent owners.
The vote was 51-49, with two abstentions.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the owners voted unanimously to approve the stadium project and “are pleased to have reached a fair and equitable solution.”
It’s the first major public endorsement of the plan since a new NFL owners meeting was held in New York on Feb. 16.
Goodell said it will help keep the Browns’ team in Cleveland, while also allowing for other stadium uses.
The NFL is considering a $200 million stadium expansion for the Chicago Bears in Chicago, while a proposal to build an indoor stadium for an NBA team in New Orleans also has the support of the owners.
Goodell also said the stadium plan will provide economic and social benefits to Cleveland and will help bring jobs to the city.
The plan also will bring about $3 billion in economic impact to the region, including the expansion of an airport, and it will increase tourism and bring more business to the area.
NFL owners approved the $5- billion stadium expansion project, but some have expressed concerns about potential negative impacts, particularly the stadium’s impact on parking.
Commissioner Goodell said he’s committed to ensuring that the stadium is in working order.
Goodell noted that the owners also voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Goodell spoke in support of that plan after a series of meetings, including one on Feb 12 in which a majority of the NFL owners voiced their support for the increase.
Goodell reiterated his support for a minimum wage increase during his news conference.
Goodell is a member of the league’s labor committee, which will oversee the approval of the stadium deal.
He said he will take the full authority to approve and enforce the plan, which would be done by a committee of 10 people including representatives from the Browns and other local stakeholders.
Goodell did not discuss the possibility of any possible protests during the vote.
The Browns’ move to the new stadium will be the first significant expansion of a franchise in Cleveland since the team relocated to Cleveland from Canton, Ohio, in 2012.
The stadium will also be the second in the United States for the Browns, who are owned by the family of former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell.
Goodell praised the efforts of local businesses, including those that are already taking advantage of the increased economic benefits of the new venue.
The Cleveland Browns opened their new stadium on Feb 17, the team announced.
The team has yet to announce a home game date for the new home, which has been set for a 2018 season.
The new facility will house approximately 1,400 seats and will include a team-owned practice facility and two corporate offices, which could be used to host meetings or other meetings between players, coaches and other team personnel.
The owners also approved the use of public funds for an extension of the Cleveland Cavaliers arena project in Cleveland.
The project is expected to be completed by 2024.
The $1 billion plan includes $300 million for the stadium expansion, $100 million for parking and $50 million for other public improvements.
The majority of that money will go to paying for the expansion.
The remaining $400 million will be used for stadium improvements and other public benefits.