FirstEnergy Stadium - Cleveland Browns
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
FirstEnergy Stadium 100 Alfred Lerner Way Cleveland, OH 44114
Year Opened: 1999 Capacity: 67,407
Browns Turning It Around
The Cleveland Browns are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL, as they were founded in 1946. They won four NFL titles in the pre-Super Bowl era. Among the greats who played with the original franchise are Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Paul Warfield, Ozzie Newsome and Bernie Kosar. The team was moved after the 1995 season by owner Art Modell to Baltimore, where they became the Baltimore Ravens.
The present Cleveland Browns franchise came into being in 1999, as a result of a promise from the NFL to either create an expansion team for the city or to relocate another team to Cleveland. Like most expansion franchises, the new Cleveland Browns have struggled since joining the league, posting only two winning seasons since 1999, including a 0 – 16 record in 2017. However, things are looking up, as the team posted a 7-8-1 record in 2018 under the leadership of first round draft choices Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry. The team has also added a new GM and head coach in an effort to make the Browns a winning team once again.
The home of the new Cleveland Browns is FirstEnergy Stadium; it opened as Cleveland Browns Stadium, becoming FirstEnergy Stadium in a naming rights deal in 2013. The stadium was built as part of a legal settlement with Art Modell for leaving the city, along with financial assistance from the NFL and proceeds from a special use tax approved by Cleveland voters. FirstEnergy Stadium seats 67,895, including 143 suites and 8,800 club seats.
Food & Beverage 4
Concession stands at FirstEnergy Stadium come with names like Great Lakes Cheesesteaks, Sausage & Peppers, Hodgson’s Downtown Dogs and the B Spot. They serve food and large portions and feature foods that are favorites of the many ethnic populations who make up the greater Cleveland area. Foods include brats ($9.75), Italian sausages ($10.50), cheesesteaks ($10.50), kielbasa ($10.50), pepperoni rolls ($8.25) and grinders ($8.50).
The general concessions are sold at stands known as C-Town Eats. A sampling of the prices at the C-Town Eats concession stands include hamburgers ($8.75), hot dogs ($6.25), pork sandwiches ($9.50), nachos ( $7.50), popcorn ($7) and pretzels ($8.75).
A regular soda is $5.50 while a bottled water is reasonably priced at $4.75. Warm beverages are a must and coffee and hot chocolate are $4. Adult beverages are $10 for a 16-ounce domestic beer or $11 for a local craft beer.
Small amounts of food may be brought into the stadium. However, they must be in a clear plastic bag that fits within the standard NFL security rules dimensions. No liquids are allowed to be brought in from the outside.
Cleveland is a city that believes in tradition. It demanded that the team name, iconic uniforms and other iconic images remain behind when the original team left for Baltimore. Cleveland Municipal Stadium was well past its prime, so the decision of where to locate the new stadium was a no brainer. Its original name for the first 14 years was the very-to-the-point Cleveland Browns Stadium.
However, FirstEnergy Stadium includes many amenities not found at the old “Muni” (sometimes called the “mistake by the lake”). The new stadium features 143 suites, a much better audio system and is equipped with Wi-Fi. It also provides an extensive graphics package and video boards measuring 40’ X 192”, more than five times larger than the scoreboards of old.
The winter weather in Cleveland is literally a part of the stadium’s atmosphere. The local fans see it as home field advantage when playing teams from warm weather regions or domed stadiums who are unaccustomed to the cold and the winds whipping in off Lake Erie. Clevelanders live in this environment year-round, so it does not bother them.
The stadium is equipped with closed captioning systems for the hearing impaired as well as headphones for persons with sensory issues.
First Energy Stadium is in the North Coast Harbor section of Cleveland, along the shores of Lake Erie. The lake provides a beautiful backdrop to the north side of the stadium. It is predominately a commercial area, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center serving as its neighbors. There is an initiative underway to make the area more recreation-friendly, with some shoreline reclamation now in the plans.
Downtown Cleveland provides a wide variety of dining, lodging and entertainment options. If your schedule works out, you may be able to enhance your Cleveland sports experience by checking out an Indians game at nearby Progressive Field or a Cavs game at the newly renovated Rocket Mortgage Field House Other attractions near FirstEnergy Stadium include the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the West Side Market. The NFL Hall of Fame is just a few miles south of Cleveland and is well worth a visit.
The Cleveland Browns have one the most famous fan groups in the NFL in the “Dawg Pound.” These canine crazies inhabit the area behind the east end zone and are known to disrupt even the most poised QB’s and place kickers in the NFL (apart from John Elway in the old days). These fans are known for their somewhat rowdy chants and their dog-themed attire.
The Browns have also added a more family friendly version of the Dawg Pound with a pregame Dawg Pound Drive on the south side of the stadium. The activities include music, carnival-type booths and visits from the Brown cheerleaders and mascot.
Cleveland fans also deserve our highest rating for standing by their team through some very lean seasons. They even put on a parade in recognition of the team’s “Perfect Season” (0-16) in 2017. Their passion for their team is one of the reasons the NFL made sure the city was awarded a replacement for the original franchise so quickly. When the team won its first game in over a year and went 7-8-1 the fans celebrated like they were going to the Super Bowl… and America celebrated with them.
The stadium’s site on the shores of Lake Erie adds a unique addition to the pregame experience as many fans choose to sailgate at a marina just a few hundred feet from the stadium. Other fans tailgate on some of the jetties that extend out from the Cleveland waterfront.
The noise level created by the Cleveland fans rival those of Kansas City and Seattle. In most cases that noise consists of more than 70,000 fans going woof, woof, woof simultaneously. Opposing QB’s cite Cleveland as one of the most intimidating stadiums to play in.
The home of the Browns is easily accessed by taking the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway (Rte. 2) off I-90. FirstEnergy Stadium is one of the only stadiums in the NFL without its own parking facilities. It is dependent on surrounding commercial lots for use at home games. The team has partnered with Park Mobile Cleveland to handle parking on NFL Sundays. It is strongly advised that you pre-purchase your parking at the same time you purchase your tickets. An even better option is to use the Waterfront Light Rail Line of the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to get to the games. The cost is a very reasonable $5 for an all-day pass. The West Third Avenue Station serves FirstEnergy Stadium.
Once at the stadium, access improves. There are 14 points of entry to FirstEnergy Stadium, keeping the lines as short as possible. The concourses are relatively wide, allowing a good traffic flow during the game. The stadium has 274 restrooms, which keeps the lines at a minimum. However, there are only 42 concessions areas, so lines tend to back up, especially on cold days when coffee and hot chocolate are in high demand.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Cleveland Browns games start at $20 for Upper Level seats, $45 for Mezzanine Level and $50 for seats in the Lower Level. Games against AFC East opponents Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will be especially expensive, as they are rivalry games and are relatively close to Cleveland, making it attractive for rivalry fans to travel to the games. Parking ranges from $20 – $40, depending on how far the lot is from the stadium. RTA fares for the light rail are $2.50 for a one-way ticket or $5.50 for an all-day fare. Concessions at FirstEnergy Stadium tend to run on the high side.
FirstEnergy Stadium is the only NFL venue that has never hosted an NFL playoff game since its inception.
Due to frigid temperatures during Cleveland winters, the field has an underground heating system. It features nine boilers and more than 40 miles of underground piping.
FirstEnergy Stadium is built on the footprint of the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the home of the original Cleveland Browns team. The debris from the demolition of the original stadium now serves as an artificial reef in Lake Erie.
Even though the stadium’s naming rights belong to FirstEnergy, power to the stadium is provide by Cleveland Public Power.
The Browns boast of one the largest fan followings in the NFL. The Browns Backers Worldwide (BBW) has groups in every major city in the US, on military bases worldwide and in several European countries. It has a membership of more than 305,000.
The stadium and the fans are top notch here in Cleveland.