Browns Considering Building New Practice Facility at Tuttle Park
The Cleveland Browns are considering Tuttle Park as the site of a new practice facility. Significant changes would be made to the University District park – located just north of Lane Avenue and west of Neil Avenue – in order to accommodate the Browns for approximately one month every summer, according to preliminary plans discussed with community leaders.
The changes would involved converting the existing softball fields into three football fields ringed by small bleachers. The Tuttle Park Recreation Center would be torn down and replaced with a new, larger facility, and about 70 parking spaces would be added for patrons to use (Browns fans would be directed to park at the Schottenstein Center and walk across the Lane Avenue bridge to access the facility).
The park’s outdoor hockey rink, memorial garden, and playground equipment would all be relocated under the plan. Tuttle Pool would not affected.
“Columbus Recreation and Parks has envisioned for some time now investing to enhance select current recreational facilities in Central Ohio as Focus Centers,” said Columbus Recreation and Parks Director Tony Collins, in a statement. “The Cleveland Browns have had an interest in partnering with a community while serving their football operations’ desire to find a facility away from their year-round home…for training camp. When those interests were aligned earlier this year, the synergy allowed our vision for Tuttle Park, as one of those Focus Centers, to come into existence on an expedited timeline.”
The City of Columbus, Franklin County, and the Browns would each contribute $5 million to the plan, with the city maintaining ownership of the park land and the new recreation center. The city’s Recreation and Parks Department would continue to be in charge of the daily operation of the center.
Joe Motil, head of the Tuttle Park Community Recreation Council, provided details on the proposal after attending a meeting last night with Collins in which the was briefed on the plans.
“It’s a lot to digest,” said Motil, adding that he has some concerns about the additional parking and converting what is now essentially open green space into fields that may serve a more narrow function. “I’m trying to be open minded, and am reaching out to the community to see what people think about it.”
Rory Krupp, who sits on the University Area Commission and heads its Planning Committee, said that he hasn’t been contacted about the idea, but expects lots of discussion when it is formally brought before the commission, adding that “further review of the plan is clearly warranted.”
In February, the Browns – along with the Columbus Partnership – asked for $5 million from the state to help build a practice facility in Columbus. They later withdrew that request after lawmakers and others complained that such a move would come at the expense of Berea, Ohio, where the Browns have practice facilities and have traditionally held their summer training camp.