How I would renovate Berea.

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Berea renovations and hoping for osmosis.

Brent Stehlik, Browns EVP-Revenue, tweeted out a picture last week showing how the some of the renovations of Berea are coming along.  The latest renovation was one of the first orders of business for the Banner regime after taking over.  As it was for the Mangini era prior to that.  And by the Lerners in 1999.  All this for a facility built just over 20 years ago.

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Lou Groza Drive, Berea.

The building, which originally opened in August 1991, was renovated in the spring of 1999, while further renovations and expansion commenced during the 2009 offseason.  The most recent improvements include an expanded locker room, a lobby restoration that pays tribute to Browns’ Hall of Famers and a complete renovation of the cafeteria, video room, and meeting rooms, including a new 2,300 sq. ft. auditorium featuring 120 theater seats.

It’s been hard for me to capture my reaction to the investments the latest regime has put forward in Berea.  I’m not against eating healthy, so what’s the harm in improving the cafeteria?  Maintenance of the physical plant is important for any business, so why not spruce things up?  It’s not my money, it doesn’t eat cap space, what’s the problem?

I part company with the goodness of all this when these improvements are presented to the Browns’ customers (us) in a guise of “look what we’re doing for you.”  The logic that it’s “for us” relies on a very broad set of guides for “implementing culture change.”  That is, comfortable environs make for happier employees make for successful organizations leads to winning football.  It’s stretch, for me.  If this is all “for us,” what’s next?  Pictures of Norv Turner’s new Escalade?  Quinton Groves’ new house?  They’re now happier and they’re Browns’ employees… should we the fans expect to be treated to some selfies in front of garages?

“Look and feel.”

So…, I’m not quite on-board with the embrace of renovations as being meaningful accomplishments of the new leadership team.  But Joe Banner wants me to think this is progress:

Everything we do — the type of foundation we’re going to have, the type of events we’re going to run in the community, the renovation of the offices upstairs … there’s going to be a completely different look and feel. Over the next couple of years, for instance, we’re going to change the logo and uniforms in a way that will respect the history but will be forward looking. We’re going to do a major renovation project at the stadium, too, the details of which are still to be determined. So it’s going to be a completely different place.

If culture change is what’s being sought, what is the new culture exactly?  It looks like they’re missing the mark or haven’t defined one.  What’s the new “look and feel?”  From here, the message reads:  You athletes –and also you VPs of Fan Experience– are super special and sixty years ago the Browns were really good.  By dint of having signed a contract with the Browns, you are heir to the mantles of Otto Graham and Jim Brown.

In other words, the renovations seem to me a furtherance of the entitled athlete thing and not at all useful if “culture change” is the goal.

Wrong message.

The message should be:  you have to earn it.

Browns ≠ Barca

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More than a club.

To the right is the tunnel from FC Barcelona’s lockers to their pitch.  It seems the Browns made have taken their design cues from here.

That’s a problem.

Barca has earned their tunnel.

  • 22 La Liga winners;
  • 12 UEFA Cups;
  • 2 FIFA Club World Cups;
  • Countless international stars from Rivaldo to Ronaldinho to Messi and now Neymar.

The 2013 Browns have earned nothing.  They’re NOT part of something special until they create something special.

Graham and Brown and Groza and Schafrath trained at Hiram College and held off-season jobs to make ends meet.  If you want to keep faith with the memories of the 50s Browns, the weight room should look like Mickey’s gym from Rocky.  Not for nothing but the Steelers will be in Latrobe this year for their training camp as they have done since 1967.

This is the wall treatment renovation earned by the Browns since 1999.

You don’t remodel your way into a winning tradition.  You earn that.  To miss that idea, to [apparently] think you can put up an Otto Graham poster and claim that legacy through looking at a picture … it not only misses the point, but drives home the wrong one.

Cinder block.

Here’s what I would do for all the walls in Berea:  cinder block.  Cinder block wall in the hallways, offices, lockers.  And as the team accomplishes something renovations follow.

  1. When the team reaches .500, the cinder block will get a coat of primer.
  2. A second .500 season and the walls will receive a second coat and perhaps with a color.
  3. Playoff appearance gets you maybe some bleached beadboard wainscoting.
  4. Playoff win, crown moulding.
  5. Ultimately, a Super Bowl win and you get full paneling, beamed ceilings… the coaches/players’ choice as to whether they want a feasting hall modeled after Winterfell or Casterly Rock or the Red Keep.
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Browns cafeteria after their Super Bowl win.

This is how you build something; this is how pride in accomplishments is found.  Through accomplishments.  Not through participation medals.

Brookline’s way.

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TCC: The Grille Room Francis Ouimet Wall

A fair question becomes:  how do you link to tradition and still change the culture?  It got me thinking of one of the (if not the) pre-eminent golf clubs in the country.  Where Francis Ouimet won the US Open as an amateur in 1912.  A site that has hosted 12 major championships and a Ryder Cup.  TCC in Brookline; you can’t find a golf club with more tradition.

See right for how they have seen fit to capture and present their tradition.  Fairly modest, no?  Yet the message is not lost on anyone.

Just pointing out that there is only one to create a championship culture and tradition:  by being a champion.

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  • bupalos

    I’d actually like it if the browns would play up their tradition as much or more than they currently do. But to do that right, they’d have to play more to the element that actually connects the current Browns to Browns’ history, and that happens to be the very element that the NFL has been trying to breed out of the equation for 3 decades now. It’s the local civic connection, the idea that teams actually represent particular locations. Since this runs counter to profit maximization and brand globalization, it’s somewhere behind and to the left of the back burner.

    • hiram college fits into your suggestion somehow.

      • Dave Kolonich

        Remember the last time Berea got a facelift? Mangini wanted to move some murals and was accused by Grossi of white washing history. That was followed by Bottle Gate and Bus Gate.

        That feels like two decades ago. Now the owner gets sued every third day and Banner likely knows more about interior design than finding mid round draft picks.

        Here’s to another scrub in 2-3 years.

        • it seems we’ve got another ‘football man’ thinking he’s something else. logos, uniforms, interior design and now.. construction design/build maven.

          not for nothing but alec scheiner’s claim to fame was installing jimmy jones’s scoreboard. (if anyone can find a record of accomplishment of his using MIT analytics to improve player personnel decisions, please pass it on.) why is banner active in these non-football things? what the hell is schiener doing? i was told he was a genius.. was that exaggerated?

          this all reminds me of holmgren negotiating parking leases with the port of cleveland. hey. football guys. DO MORE FOOTBALL.

          • Dave Kolonich

            Schiener is part of that ESPN/Grantland cadre of smartest guys in the room (Lombardi is the smartest), so we have nothing to worry about there.

            But right, it would be nice to have at least one smart football guy in the FO. Kind of scary to think that Savage, Heckert and even Kokinis were better qualified than these guys.

  • Gary Collins

    How about a picture of the deceased owner’s stripper Wife and they peel off a post it revealing more skin until they reach enough wins to make the playoffs?

    And if you think I meant Pat Modell watch more movies

    • Anonymous

      Georgia is kind of too old for that and why should we care about the Rams?

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