The Cleveland Browns have one of the more interesting histories in professional sports. The original team was formed in 1945 and joined the NFL in 1950, where they won a championship that year. They also took titles in 1954, 1955, and 1964, but that was their heyday. After the NFL merged with the AFL, the Browns became poster boys for failure, losing heartbreaking playoff games and never making it to another championship game. The team shared Municipal Stadium (often referred to as the Mistake by the Lake) with the Cleveland Indians for 50 years.
In 1996, owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore, where they became the Ravens and won a Super Bowl in 2000. However, Modell’s move was highly controversial, and he faced several lawsuits. In order to expedite the move, he agreed to leave the intellectual property and history of the Browns to a trust, which would be kept for a future expansion team.
In 1999, Cleveland was granted a new franchise and they made Cleveland Browns Stadium, built on the site of Municipal Stadium, their new home. The Browns continued the legacy of futility, with only one playoff appearance in that time. Fortunately, their new football-only facility is among the best in the league, giving their hard-luck fans a great place to watch the team. In 2013, FirstEnergy bought the stadium naming rights and the stadium subsequently was renamed to its current moniker.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
You can get your typical stadium fare at most concessions, which have names such as Goal Line Grille, and Sideline Express. Nachos, hot dogs, pizza, and chicken tenders are available around the lower and upper concourses. There are a number of gluten-free options, including a garden salad ($5) and grilled chicken salad ($7.50) available at Dawg Pound Deli near sections 107 and 133. My recommendation here though is the Smoked Turkey Sandwich ($9), which is huge, filling, and good quality to boot.
Other specialty items include a Classic Reuben ($9), Rice Works ($2.25), a Vegetarian Burger, and a Pinzone Bratwurst which cooks on a portable grill right on the concourse and is fantastic.
The Brownstown Tailgate area is worth a visit. You can grab a BBQ Pork Sandwich ($9), as well as Buffalo Mac N Cheese, BBQ Nachos, and Pierogies.
Beer is available throughout the concourses and at $5 for 12 ounces, is tied for the cheapest in the league. If you want something other than the usual Budweiser products, you might be able to find local brew Thirsty Dog on some taps.
The club section is run by Aramark (the other concourses are managed by Delaware North) and has completely different menus based on locally inspired food, including C Town Eats with healthy wraps, Hodge Podge with a pulled pork BLT, and Rosie and Rocco's with Meatball Sandwiches and Cannoli.
Pick up a Browns fan guide at any guest services booth as it has a comprehensive list of all food items, and don't forget to sign up for the designated driver program for a small soda if you are not planning to drink beer.
There are no cheerleaders here, which can be a problem with all the breaks in the typical NFL game these days, but the Browns keep things moving with highlights on their two big scoreboards above each end zone, announcements and contests, and music that isn't played at a blaring level. There is a small drum line that plays a couple of times during the game, but doesn't seem to have any impact on the fans.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, they play "Hang On Sloopy", which is the official rock song of the State of Ohio, and the fans chant O-H-I-O, a very nice touch that can be heard at other Ohio sporting events too.
Other than that, you are left with the fans, who keep things lively throughout the game cheering for their team and ensuring there are no extended periods of quiet.
Located next to Lake Erie with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center just next door, the stadium is well placed for tourism, but not so much for an exciting post game.
Bob Golic's Sports Bar and Grille is a couple of blocks away at the corner of 4th and Lakeside, but for more choices, you will have to walk a few blocks north to Tower City, which is the transportation hub.
This also happens to be the area where Progressive Field is situated, with several bars in a few square blocks, including the burgeoning breastaurant chain Tilted Kilt along with Flannery's Pub. These two are by no means all there is, so if you attend a Sunday afternoon game, this is probably where you will head afterwards to watch the late games.
The Dawg Pound is the most famous seating area in the NFL, lying in the lower sections of the east end zone. Fans there are dressed up in dog costumes and the like. Visiting fans sit there at their own peril. These fans have been through a lot and they still show up and support their boys, shouting "Let's Go Brownies!" to which you must respond "Woof! Woof!" if you want to fit in.
Unlike fans in other stadiums who seem to fear postgame traffic, these guys stay to the end. Most fans do not park nearby which means that even several blocks away you will still hear chants of "Let's Go Brownies!" and the accompanying Woofs from others.
The Cleveland downtown area is easily accessed from two major interstates, I-90 and I-77, both of which bring you in the south side of town. Once there though, you may have a bit of trouble getting to the stadium area, which does get congested and has a few road closings before the game. Ohio Route 2 has an off ramp that takes you right next to the stadium if you don't mind paying $25 for parking right there.
There is a light rail stop right in front of the stadium, but you can also take the train to Tower City and walk down for the atmosphere rather than transfer. Inside the stadium, concourses are wide enough and fans will not have any difficulty making their way around. After the game, there will be a large crowd making its way north on 3rd Street and that is slow to move, but once past Lakeside, it is back to normal.
You cannot circle the entire stadium on the upper level, as there are gaps that allow you to see part of the skyline from the north seats or Lake Erie from the south.
The washrooms are fine although as usual, you are advised to avoid halftime to take your break.
Tickets here can be had for $95 for lower sideline, a bargain compared to some other venues. Lower corners are only $75, while upper deck seats along the sidelines are $77.
Amazingly, the seats in the Dawg Pound are only $65, so if you want to be part of that famous fan group, you can do so. I prefer sitting in the upper end zone, where you can see the play coming at you, those seats go for a mere $50, a really good value. Those are the same as the club level, but you cannot access the club (which runs in excess of $300) with those tickets.
With food and beer being reasonably priced and street parking available a few blocks away (if you get there early enough), you should be completely satisfied with the money you pay for your experience at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Outside the stadium along the south side are plaques for each Browns' Hall of Famer.
There is also a dedication to the fans, who spoke out when Modell moved their team and were able to keep their team's history in Cleveland. It shows that the little guy can take on the greedy millionaire and win sometimes.
The views from the upper ramps of Lake Erie are quite nice and prove that this is no mistake by the lake.
Although not part of the stadium, the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial and the Wind Turbine as part of the Great Lakes Science Center make for good meeting spots and photo opportunities.
FirstEnergy Stadium really has no major flaws other than housing a team that seems perpetually cursed. This review was taken from the game where local boy Brian Hoyer was knocked out for the 2013 season and it was sad to see the fans nod knowingly. They seem to accept their place in sports hell, but at least they have a stadium in which they can enjoy that place in comfort.
Cleveland Browns Stadium sits at the edge of Lake Erie and in the exact same spot as old Cleveland Municipal Stadium once sat before the Browns left town in 1996.
Easily accessible by either the Shoreway, via the RTA rapid transit system, Interstate 90 at the East 9th Street exit, Interstate 77, or Interstate 71; Browns Stadium is an impressive site sitting next to the Great Lakes Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Parking is readily available all around the stadium and prices range around $15-$20 depending on which parking lot you choose. For example, the always popular Muni Lot is the latter price due to its history as being the best place to tailgate prior to the game.
Once in the stadium, a fan quickly notices the immense and large, open-air feel of the stadium. While many in the past have complained that the seats are not close enough to the field, the sheer size of the NFL's ninth largest stadium is a site to behold in itself.
There really is no bad seat in Browns Stadium and there are no obstructions to a fan's view as there once was in old Municipal Stadium, with its infamous lower deck pillars (sat behind one as a child in the early 80s).
Outside of the stadium there are plenty of bars and dining options. A plethora of bars are within walking distance in the Warehouse District on West Sixth Street. Fans can either drink to a Browns victory or drink their depression away depending on the results of the game.
Inside Browns Stadium, a pleasant surprise can be found with the restaurant Legends, which is available to all in attendance and once it gets really cold out over Lake Erie, it is a great place to warm up too.
The one thing those who attend Browns games at the stadium need to watch out for is the obnoxious and excessive swearing during games. Understandably, many Browns fans are angry with these new rules in place to make games more family-friendly, but keep your four-letter words in the Muni Lot during pre- and post-game tailgating otherwise the Cleveland Police will be quick to escort you out of the stadium without refund.
In the Browns' 2010 home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, there were a reported 16 fans escorted out of the stadium for misbehaving and excessive bad language. You have been warned.
Arriving at Cleveland Browns Stadium (CBS) is as convenient as possible for Northeast Ohioans and visitors alike. Sitting on the lake between W. 3rd and E. 9th streets, the stadium is accessible via Greater Cleveland's RTA rail-train with a stop directly in front of the southwest ticket gate. Fans from both east and west suburbs of Cleveland can utilize this worry-free mode of transportation by purchasing an all-day pass for $5, ideal for when traveling alone to the game.
Parking is abundant near the stadium; while some lots are by pass only, the W. 3rd lot directly west of the stadium carries a modest price of $20 per vehicle. The largest tailgate party occurs in the Muni Lot, a 3-lot stretch of cinders that is just east of the stadium and borders Ohio Route 2. Parking here costs $25, but gives you the full Cleveland Browns tailgate experience; the most rabid of fans are known to park their RVs, buses, or trailers (painted browns and orange of course) overnight before the more popular games. Other surface lots and garages can be found with parking prices as low as $10 within 10 city blocks of the stadium; or find the right side street with parking meters, and park for free on weekends in the city.
For those without the outdoor culinary skills to tailgate with the professionals, nearby bars and restaurants in downtown Cleveland provide the normal casual fare. Various restaurants host gameday brunches (including the Hard Rock CafĂ© near Tower City), but the best may be at John Q's Steakhouse, situated at 55 Public Square (northwest corner of the square). During the week, Cleveland's white-collar crowd can be seen here having lunch by day and enjoying quality steakhouse meals at reasonable prices by night. For the eight Sundays hosting Browns' home games, the Sunday brunch is a welcomed respite to eating charcoal-flavored hotdogs. Made-to-order omelettes and prime rib draw the attention of diners, but the normal breakfast sides, fruit, and desserts do not go unnoticed. John Q's is a hallmark of finer football dining. My last visit to the brunch was two years ago, and I regret not making a stop during this past season.
If drinks and bar food are the sole targets of a pre-game meal, try a fairly new establishment bearing the name of Browns semi-legend and Saved By The Bell (The College Years) featured star, Bob Golic. At 1213 W. 6th Street, Bob Golic's Sports Bar and Grille rests at the north end of one of downtown Cleveland's entertainment hotspots, the Warehouse District. The bar is on the corner of Lakeside Avenue, making it a short walk down to the stadium. Food is reasonably priced and includes the usual burgers, wings, pizza, and ribs you'll find at any bar and grille. On game days, extra bartenders are placed among the crowd to offer $5, 24-ounce cans of domestic light beers, while the bar is fully stocked with liquor and other beer choices. The attraction of Bob Golic's is the atmosphere and connection to a star of the past, but not necessarily the menu. However, its location provides you with easy access to other pre-game watering holes, including a Cleveland staple, Panini's.
Once inside the stadium, the food and beverage choices range from the predictable (nachos and bratwursts) to the seemingly displaced (grilled chicken Caesar wraps!). A full meal can be had in the neighborhood of $14-$18 dollars if choosing the chicken tenders and fries combo ($10.50) along with your beverage of choice (bottled water at the low end, alcohol at the top). One recommended option for food is the basket of waffle fries with cheese and bacon. While also available plain with ketchup or with cheese and chili, the combo of nacho cheese and bacon is simple yet not a standard stadium offering. At only $5.50, the fries can serve as one individual's meal or shared between two without leaving either person feeling cheated.
Draft beers at the concession stands cost $6.75 for a twelve-ounce pour, while 16-ounce cans are available from walking vendors for only a quarter more at $7 each. The offerings I have found are nothing to excite a connoisseur of barley and hops: Bud Light, Coors Light, and Labatt Blue seem to be available from most concession stands and vendors. One slight disappointment is the lack of any microbrews or craft beers; both nearby Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena, homes of the Indians and Cavaliers, respectively, offer a wider range of beers, including selections from local favorite Great Lakes Brewing Company. In over 20 games attended in the past 5 years, I cannot recall ever finding something different than the common beers.
A relatively well-kept secret of the food and beverage experience in Cleveland Browns Stadium is Legends, located between the upper and lower levels of the northeast end of the stadium. Available to any ticketholder, not only does this concession area provide an array of stadium food staples and drinks, but a warm break from the Cleveland cold is welcomed. Your stay may be longer than expected, as flat-screen televisions are spread around and throughout the open floor, most tuned into the Browns game while a few show games from across the NFL. The typical beer selection is found here as well, but with the added bonus of a fully stocked bar (they'll even throw a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream into your coffee for a steep $8, but it's the only place to enjoy an Irish Coffee inside the stadium).
The one thing you have to remember about Cleveland Browns Stadium and its fans is that there has yet to be a blackout game since the rebirth of the franchise in 1999.
Now that is a passionate fans base especially with all the drama and turmoil this team has seen since 1999, which alone give the fan rating five stars.
The atmosphere can be rated any number of ways, but referring back to the not having a blackout since 1999 and if you have ever been to a Browns game when they won, there is no better place be. No fans cheering harder and louder for their team when they are winning than Browns fans, which give the atmosphere a five star rating too.
All the other ratings are a solid four out of five stars since the access is easy being right off of the Shoreway highway or a quick drive down East 9th Street which is accessible from I-90, I-77, and I-71.
Food & Bev. gets four stars because the prices are exactly what you would expect from at a football stadium.
Does a $7 beer really surprise you? C'mon now that's normal.
Finally, both the return and extras are both four stars because the experience is worthwhile regards of winning or losing because the experience is something you'll always remember especially since there is no bad seat in the house.
Bottom line, if there are a list of the top 10 stadiums to visit in the NFL, Cleveland Browns Stadium is easily on that list.
It may lately have become a "Factory of Sadness" but C.B.S. contains some of the most passionate fans in the NFL. There's something special about pulling into the Muni Parking Lot with all the tailgaters barking in full force on a cool winter afternoon. Great food in the club levels, more mediocre on the outside.
For the entire history of the Cleveland Browns, and that stretches to their days in the 1940’s as a part of the old All-America Football Conference, the team has played on these hallowed grounds on the shores of Lake Erie. The old Cleveland Municipal Stadium served as the longtime home for the Browns and the MLB Cleveland Indians, but age and lack of functionality took their toll on the old place.
And one of the most famous and iconic part of of the Browns’ experience, the end zone Dawg Pound, almost died with it. Or did it? For in 1999, when the new Cleveland Browns Stadium opened its doors, it came with the new Dawg Pound, and all the traditions associated with the Browns game day experience.
In January 2013, the Browns announced a naming rights deal with FirstEnergy, and the stadium has been renamed FirstEnergy Stadium.
1213 West Sixth Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
1100 Rock and Roll Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44114
629 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114