When the NFL decided to allow Cleveland back into the league, the City of Cleveland worked hard to make sure that FirstEnergy Stadium would be ready by the first game. The stadium opened on September 12th, 1999, at a cost of approximately $283 million. They welcomed back their long-suffering fans, who went through yet another sports-related indignity, as they had to watch the Baltimore Ravens, a.k.a. the old Browns, lift the Vince Lombardi trophy in 2000.
Building this facility was part of the deal to allow NFL football back into Cleveland, as the Cleveland Municipal Stadium was more than five decades old. Incredibly, FirstEnergy Stadium is one of two NFL stadiums yet to have hosted a playoff game. The other, Levi Stadium, was opened in 2014.
The Dawg Pound returned after their forced hiatus between 1995 and 1999, consisting of some of the most diehard fans in the AFC North division, especially considering the unfortunate history of their franchise. This section of the stadium consists of a pair of bleachers that seats 10,644 fans. After resisting the sale of naming rights to the stadium for more than a decade, Cleveland Browns Stadium changed its name to FirstEnergy Stadium in 2013.
Cleveland Browns Stadium
Even the inclement weather and the raucous nature of Cleveland Browns fans don’t lend the Browns much of a hand, as FirstEnergy Stadium doesn’t provide much of a home field advantage due to the team’s general lack of competence. Over the past five years, the Browns have been 17-23 at home, well below the NFL’s average winning percentage for home teams. In fact, the first regular season game at FirstEnergy ended up being a 43-0 loss to the Steelers, which was a harbinger of future struggles.
Nonetheless, visiting teams don’t enjoy playing at FirstEnergy Stadium either, even though playing the Browns provides an above-average opportunity to win. Despite a 40 mile system of pipes and boilers that prevent the field from freezing in the cold, the Kentucky Bluegrass turf was rated fifth worst in the NFL in terms of quality.
During the 2014 and 2015 offseason, a series of renovations took place, with Cleveland pitching in $30 million for the upgrade and the Browns paying for the remainder, totaling $120 million. New concessions, upgraded sound and the fourth largest display screen in the NFL will be added to modernize the stadium.
Date Opened: September 12th, 1999
Construction Cost: $283 million
Architect: Populous; Robert P. Madison; International, Inc.; Ralph Tyler Companies
Capacity Attendance: 67,407
Playing Surface: Kentucky Bluegrass
Previous Cleveland Browns Stadiums
Cleveland Municipal Stadium
Other Major Events
College and High School Football
A series of big college games have been held at this stadium, including the Ohio Classic, the Patriot Bowl and Ohio State vs Toledo. The best high school teams throughout the state have competed at this stadium over the years during playoff games for the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
FirstEnergy Stadium has hosted a trio of international friendly matches between the USMNT and various international sides. In 2006, the U.S. played Venezuela, in 2010 Germany and in 2013 Belgium. The U.S. team beat Germany and Venezuela but fell to the Belgium squad.