CLEVELAND (AP) _ A couple of hometown players won the rights Thursday to design the $220 million stadium for the future Cleveland Browns and promised to keep the ``Dawg Pound.''

The $14.5 million contract went to HOK Sports Facilities Group of Kansas City and Robert P. Madison International and Osborn Engineering, both of Cleveland. HOK designed Jacobs Field for the Cleveland Indians.

The city and the NFL determined that the HOK-Madison-Osborne proposal was the best among those submitted by three competing groups, Mayor Michael White said.

The contract includes all architectural and engineering work for the new stadium and oversight of Cleveland Stadium's demolition. The new structure will be built at the site of the old stadium along Lake Erie.

Stadium design work will begin immediately, White said. Demolition of 64-year-old Cleveland Stadium is to begin in November and will be finished in time for groundbreaking of the new stadium next spring. The new Cleveland Browns are to begin playing in the new stadium in 1999.

``We know we have a very strong team that will bring this project in on time and on budget,'' White said.

The designers did not present any plans for the new stadium, but pledged to combine the historic look of the city with the modern image of the stadium's lakefront neighbors _ the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center.

One carryover from the old stadium will be the ``Dawg Pound,'' the end zone bleacher section filled with the Browns' most rabid fans, designer Robert Madison said.

``The Dawg Pound is unique to Cleveland,'' he said. ``There's no other Dawg Pound in the world. Therefore, the replicating of that has to be a part of this. We're certain about that.''

A design for the new stadium will be determined by the end of the year, said Dennis Wellner, senior vice president of HOK. The structure will take 2-2 1/2 years to build.

White said the city is studying whether leftover concrete from the old stadium can be turned into a fishing reef off the lake.

Each of the stadium designers has experience with large projects. HOK worked on Jacobs Field, Madison was an architect on the Rock Hall and Osborn designed Yankee Stadium in the 1920s and helped design Cleveland Stadium.

Under terms of an agreement with the NFL, the city needs a stadium built by September 1999 to be assured of a new team. The city lost its team this year when owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens. This will be Cleveland's first season without a pro football team since 1936.

The city will use money from several taxes, plus a guarantee of as much as $48 million from the NFL, to help pay for the new stadium. The NFL said the existing 78,000-seat stadium was unfit for continued use.

The new stadium and team also may ease some of the city's hard feelings over losing the Browns.

``We're delighted to be able to say we're going to build a facility that will make those who left town regret it,'' Madison said.