"The Browns have had one winning season since their comeback in 1999, and the place continues to sellout -- or close to it; hopefully that sheds some light on the fans' dedication to the team." "If the team is playing well, the fans will go nuts, regardless of the record." But "years of frustration have taken their toll on our game day attitude." "The beginning of the season always brings optimism, so the atmosphere is tremendous but it fades as the losses mount." "Everyone is diehard, but often depressed." "The crowd is knowledgeable and loud, as well as profane, inebriated and obnoxious." Browns fans are "very intense," but "sometimes not suitable for individuals under the age of 18." Simply put, they "can be pretty tough on opposing fans," although what can one expect from a "football town which is desperate for the Browns to do well."
8 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (20 oz.)
Beer (16 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"The most important part about going to a Browns game -- or any Cleveland sporting event for that matter -- is getting a hot dog with Stadium Mustard." Fans cannot live on mustard alone, though, and that's where a trip behind the Dawg Pound to the Legends club and its "plethora of flat-screen TVs," "four bars," a "clear view of the game" and "a ton of taps" comes in. If you can't get in, the "nachos and cheese in a dog bowl" are served "all over the stadium, and "there is a real good Italian-sausage vendor in the upper concourse." "There are plenty of places to buy food," yet some "can't think of any place unique, which says something."
6 out of 10
"The commute is very easy to the stadium. Multiple highways lead to many parking lots, which may be accessed even easier via surface streets." "Downtown is relatively dead on weekends, so the traffic is overwhelmingly headed for the Browns game." A large municipal public parking lot "is steps away," but "tailgaters fill it by 8 a.m." "Most people "walk from downtown" after having parked closer to the city's Tower City mall complex or elsewhere. Though that entails a walk of about 15 minutes, "it's also convenient and cheaper" than situating the car near the stadium. "But it's best to take the light rail from downtown or drive to your local train depot and ride into town and walk to the gates," "and it's only $3.50." "The worst part is getting through downtown to get back to the interstates after the game." "The stadium is on the lake, so 60,000 people all have to go south at once." That can make for "packed roads for hours," yet many find the "extra police directing traffic" helpful.
6 out of 10
Maybe the "grills are fired up when the sun is rising" because "everyone still has hope before kickoff." "It's the happiest time in a Browns fan's day during this time of rebuilding." Who wouldn't rejoice at the sight of the "roasting of pigs" or "deep-fried turkey" or "beer-can chicken? And who wouldn't smile at the "overweight gluttons" "willing to share" their "plum brandy" and "wine" "as long as you have Browns gear on?" With no official stadium parking, "people are tailgating everywhere you look, from the west side to the east side," where the city operates two large municipal lots. "Arrive at the 'Muni' at 7:30 a.m., tap the keg, fire up the grill, set up the Cornhole (a bean bag game similar to horseshoes) pits and live it up until about noon, when we all trek to the stadium while chastising every single fan of the opposing team. And, "if you're a Steelers fan, expect the worst." Simply put, it is a lot of "mayhem and full bellies" no matter the weather.
8 out of 10
Braylon Edwards :: Thomas E. Witte/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Braylon Edwards (WR), Kellen Winslow Jr. (TE), Derek Anderson (QB)
7 out of 10
"It's a very professional stadium," with "roomy seats," "unobstructed views" and "plenty of bathrooms and concessions stands." "The problem is it doesn't have the grit a Cleveland Browns stadium should have." "It's like walking into a hospital." "You're not allowed to bring banners or signs into the stadium." And a fan-conduct policy has made the infamous "Dawg Pound" too controlled while the relocation of the section's seats a bit farther away from the field has "neutralized" it. "I wish the designers would have paid a little architectural tribute to old Municipal Stadium;" "visually, there's no connection." Most, though, appreciate "how important this stadium/team is to our city, that "sports are all we live for in Cleveland." The "three cut-out corners" that allow the "brutally cold wind coming in off of Lake Erie" to "whip the skin off your face" also helps grow a sense of identity, as do "the bronze tributes to past Browns greats outside the stadium." The Browns' eight-year-old stadium may not have the "history" of their old home, but it's hard to complain about a place that "is really clean, open and user-friendly."
8 out of 10
Perhaps best described as "urban scenic," the area around the stadium isn't "really a neighborhood" so much as "an industrial lake front." "Lake Erie is to the north" off the stadium. "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center next door make up quite a scene." "But the rest is "shipping docks, warehouses, railroad tracks, cinder parking lots and a freeway." "All in all, it's very Cleveland." Before you pick-up the hard hat, some suggest taking a "five-minute walk to the Warehouse District," a recently gentrified few blocks that has seen the rise of "a series of middle to high-end restaurants." A little further south and you'll be downtown, which offers some "galleria-type shopping at the Tower City complex," but otherwise "reminds of how robust a city this was -- in the 1950s."
6 out of 10
Time has a way of blurring the truth, of making one feel nostalgic for days past because they are past, not because they were good. In suffering through almost eight years of futility since the city's return to the NFL, Browns fans have little to celebrate but the good ol'days. And while those days were often better on the field, in the stands of old Cleveland Municipal Stadium they were worse -- lose your team to Baltimore worse. The new Browns stadium is none of those things, and for that Cleveland is to be grateful. It may be a bit "vanilla," but it still serves the NFL in the fall and winter. And for a city that identifies with its sports teams as closely as Cleveland does, that's not a bad order.