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Jimmy and Dee Haslam talk extensions for Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, stadium options at owners meetings

Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam are close to a couple of significant deals.

A much more expensive project remains in limbo.

Jimmy Haslam confirmed the Browns are close to contract extensions with general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski, who just started the fifth and final year of their contracts. After two playoff appearances in four seasons after one in the franchise’s previous 21, keeping the pair for the long term was expected.

“I’ll just say this,” Jimmy Haslam told a small group of beat writers Monday at the league meetings in Orlando, Florida. “We’re in the process of working through things so that Kevin and Andrew would be with us for an extended period of time.”

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The more difficult negotiations and decisions involve the future of the stadium. The Haslams have two main options — a $1 billion renovation of Cleveland Browns Stadium or building a $2 billion-plus dome outside of the city, likely in Brook Park near the airport.

“I think it’s fair to say … that in all likelihood we’re either going to remodel on the lakefront with an extensive remodel or build a new stadium, which would be a dome,” Jimmy Haslam said. “Because if we did go the dome route — I’m not saying we’re doing that vs. remodeling where we are now — it could be used more than 12 times a year.”

The current lease runs through 2028 — and Jimmy Haslam said it could be extended if necessary — so there’s time to figure out the best stadium plan.

The extensions with Berry and Stefanski are much closer to being finalized.

The pair has led the best stretch for the Browns since the late 1980s, going 38-32, including 1-2 in the playoffs. Before they arrived, the Browns had two winning seasons, one postseason appearance and a 101-234-1 record in 21 years.

This past season was always going to be a critical one for the organization. The Haslams weren’t ready to commit to extensions following back-to-back losing seasons in 2021 and ’22.

The Browns went 11-6 in 2023 and made the playoffs despite a string of serious injuries, including running back Nick Chubb lost for the season in Week 2 and quarterback Deshaun Watson after Week 10. They won games with a franchise-record four starting quarterbacks.

The Browns are set up to have, by far, the greatest stability and continuity since they returned to the NFL.

GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel from 2005-08 previously had the longest tenures. They received extensions before the 2008 season, but the Browns went 4-12 amid several off-the-field issues and both were fired before the extensions even kicked in.

The Haslams bought the franchise in 2012. Until their leadership John Dorsey had lasted longest as GM at two-plus years (end of 2017 through 2019) and Hue Jackson as coach with 2½ years (he was fired at midseason in 2019).

Stefanski, 41, had never been a head coach when he was hired and had only called plays for a season-plus with the Vikings. He was voted The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 2020 and again in 2023.

The Haslams praised how Stefanski, Berry and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta deal with the roller coaster of life in the NFL.

“It’s reflected in our entire organization,” Dee Haslam said. “I mean, you can see it among the coaching staff and it’s nobody ever really overreacts. It’s calm. Everybody works through the problem together. And we’ve had our challenges.”

The Browns have played on the lakefront since they were founded in 1946. The Haslams said if a new stadium is chosen over the extensive renovation — he said so much work would be done the place wouldn’t be recognizable — the site would be outside the city of Cleveland. They haven’t committed to Brook Park if they go that route but have the option to buy a 176-acre parcel of land where the Ford plants used to be on Snow Road, which is close to the team’s headquarters in Berea and would allow for development around the stadium.

“We have two potentially really good options, a major remodel of where we are now … or build a new domed stadium,” Jimmy Haslam said. “They’re both very hard to work out. We’re going to pursue them both. And sometime in the next year or two, we’ll say, ‘OK, here’s the direction we’re going.’”

The Haslams’ tone has shifted from a year ago when they publicly declared a preference for renovation. They remain in discussions with the city of Cleveland and the current site could still be part of the lakefront development that’s been the goal for years.

But the acknowledgement of an alternative suburban site in February drew public criticism and a response from the office of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb.

“Keeping the Browns at home on the downtown Cleveland lakefront is a priority for Mayor Bibb and city leadership,” chief of staff Bradford Davy said in a statement.

Dee Haslam insisted they’re not using Brook Park as a negotiating ploy.

“We’ve worked really well with the Mayor,” she said. “We’ve been very transparent the whole time. We’re in constant contact with his team that we both want what’s best for Cleveland.”

The lakefront stadium has issues that would be alleviated with a new site.

“We do not have a lot of parking,” Jimmy Haslam said. “A new stadium, you’d have 12,000 to 15,000 parking spaces, which is dramatically different from what we have now.”

“I think we looked at can we solve all the issues on the waterfront for our fans?” Dee Haslam said. “It’s hard to get into, hard to get out of, we have no parking.

“I think there’s an opportunity here to perhaps build a domed stadium that can transform our area. That’s something exciting to think about. We’re looking at both options. Not one option is above the other. But I do think that Cleveland deserves to be thought of as this evolving, forward-thinking, creative city as opposed to not thinking big.”

The Haslams are expected to split the cost of either project, with government funding from the municipality, county and state picking up the rest of the tab.

“I think it’s important to understand that the goal is to come up with the best experience that we can for our fans,” he said. “And yet it still has to make sense financially. So balancing those two things is something we’re working carefully on, putting a tremendous amount of effort into it.”

Dee Haslam said Cleveland and the lakefront could still thrive even if the stadium isn’t there, as long as it’s properly developed.

“The lakefront still is a great piece of property and it would be a great place for people to live,” she said. “It could be absolutely amazing. So regardless of what happens, the lakefront needs to happen. It’s really critical to our community.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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