Still flush from a Hollywood-style opening of the Rock and Roll H
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Still flush from a Hollywood-style opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and baseball’s World Series, people in this city are feeling betrayed by the Cleveland Browns.
The Depression-era Cleveland Stadium, abandoned by baseball’s Indians last year in favor of the new Jacobs Field 10 blocks away, will lose its only tenant after the Browns finish their home season and pack their bags.
Next stop for the Browns: the aging Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and the promise of a new stadium and a profitable future for Browns owner Art Modell.
Regina White, 33, of Cleveland, wearing a Browns coat, waved a ceremonial goodbye to Modell during a sidewalk interview Monday.
``If he thinks someone’s going to beg him to stay here in Cleveland, I’m not. The people of Cleveland should just tell him to go ahead on,″ White said.
When Modell’s moratorium on any comment on the future of the team was in effect since the start of the football season, most Browns fans thought today’s referendum on extending a countywide alcohol and tobacco tax to help finance stadium renovations would further polish the city’s image and give Modell what he needed.
Now, some say they will vote ``yes″ despite the team’s move and hope another NFL franchise comes here.
Portia Starks, 40, of suburban Beachwood, said Cleveland’s football team deserved a new venue like the ballpark where the Indians moved last year and the adjacent Gund Arena, the new home of the NBA Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, a Browns season ticket holder has decided to fight back in the courtroom against the planned move. His lawyers are seeking to represent all of the team’s 40,000 season ticket holders.
``Quite frankly I would not have bought a season ticket for this year had I known the team would be in Baltimore next year,″ said Howard Beder, of suburban Solon. ``I have no ambition to go to any remaining games. I have no desire to see the Baltimore Browns.″
The Browns have three regular-season home games left in Cleveland.
The lawsuit seeks at least $10 million in compensatory damages and at least $1 million in punitive damages. The case assigned to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge James J. Sweeney. Lawyer Timothy J. Grendell said he expects a hearing on whether the case can be certified as a class action within two or three weeks.
``Season tickets have been rendered valueless for the rest of this season,″ Grendell said. ``Now all that’s left for season ticket holders is a wake _ the inaugural games of the Baltimore Browns.″
Browns vice president Kevin Byrne said he had no reaction to the lawsuit.
``It’s my first time hearing of it,″ Byrne said Monday night. ``We would have no response at this time.″