ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ The NFL approved an expansion team for Cleveland on Monday, returning the Browns to the field in 1999 in an unprecedented move that restores one of football's storied franchises.

With unanimous support from owners, the league will expand to 31 teams for the 1999 season, keeping its commitment to put a club in Cleveland after the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1995.

The Browns will return to the AFC Central, playing their first exhibition game against Dallas in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, next year. The first regular season game is supposed to be played on Aug. 21, 1999 in a new stadium being built on the same site as old Cleveland Stadium, which was torn down after the move.

The $247 million, 72,000-seat stadium is expected to be completed in time for the Browns' first game.

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue also announced that the league hired Joe Mack as player personnel director of the Browns. Mack held that position with the Washington Redskins form 1989-94 and helped build the Carolina Panthers expansion team as assistant general manager in 1994.