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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Cleveland Browns Stadium - Cleveland Browns


Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

FirstEnergy Stadium 100 Alfred Lerner Way Cleveland, OH 44114

Year Opened: 1999 Capacity: 67,407


 

The Dawg Pound


It is difficult to argue that there is an NFL fanbase that has endured more heartache than the Cleveland Browns. Founded in 1946 and named after legendary coach Paul Brown, the Browns, more than any other NFL team, would hold steadfast to their traditions. Success came early for the Browns with four AAFC championships and four NFL championships, all before the Super Bowl era, ending in 1964.


Outside of Paul Brown, legendary running back Jim Brown has captured the hearts of Clevleanders. However, with the purchase of the browns by Art Modell in 1953, the decline of the Browns would begin. Modell famously fired Paul Brown in 1963 and an ostracized Jim Brown abruptly retired in 1965. The Browns would come close to the successes they enjoyed in the forties and fifties with the Kardiac Kids of the late seventies and a pair of heartbreaking close calls for quarterback Bernie Kosar in the late eighties with trips to the Super Bowl thwarted by “The Drive” and “The Fumble.”


With other professional teams in Cleveland gaining new facilities in the nineties, the Browns were left with decrepit, massive Cleveland Stadium, owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1995. The NFL immediately recognized the value of the Cleveland market and the steadfast loyalty of the fanbase and announced an expansion team to be granted to Cleveland for the 1999 season.


The lynchpin to the Browns expansion team, which would retail all records, trademarks, and championships, was the building of Cleveland Browns Stadium. New Browns owner Art Lerner would see his team take the field in the 1999 season in the new stadium owned by the City of Cleveland with a capacity of over 67,000. The new Browns have not enjoyed much success in the past 23 years. Al Lerner died in 2002. The Lerner Family sold the Browns to Jimmy and Dee Haslam in 2012 and they remain current owners of the team. To go along with a lack of success, the Browns are most known for one of the most recognizable fan groups in the entire NFL, the Dawg Pound.


Food & Beverage 4

As with any major sports venue, concessions are at the front of the consciousness of the team. The Browns offer concession options that are on par with other major sports venues. Some options include the Burger Kitchen, Tenders Love & Chicken, C-Town Eats, Michael Symon’s B-Spot, Here We Go Nachos, Meat and Cleaver, and Great Lakes Cheesesteaks.


All of the expected stadium items can be found along with some items that will peak the interest of those looking for something more. The unique options at Great Lakes Cheesesteaks are one of the best choices, which include Cleveland Nachos (nachos with parmesan fondue, green onions, bacon, and thyme) and the local favorite, Polish Boy, a brat topped with coleslaw, BBQ sauce fries, and crispy onions.


Cleveland Browns Stadium has a large selection of beer in multiple bar areas. Goose Island Beware of the Dawg may be the choice. A curious feature of beverages at Cleveland Browns Stadium is the lack of Coke or Pepsi. RC Cola, 7Up, and Dr. Pepper make up the soft drink selections.


Atmosphere 4


The exterior of Cleveland is an attractive, almost modern-looking, silver/chrome siding with plenty of glass. There are plenty of huge player banners that hang from the exterior for fans to see as well. For many years Cleveland Browns Stadium was known under the corporate name FirstEnergy Stadium. For the 2023 season, the name has reverted to Cleveland Browns Stadium.


It is obvious that the Browns and/or the City of Cleveland are looking for a new corporate partner for stadium naming rights as there is little to no signage on the exterior that says “Cleveland Browns Stadium.” The Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame can be found on plaques on the exterior of the stadium along Alfred Lerner Way, the hub of pregame activity before a Browns game. Two spots fans will assuredly want to see before entering the gates are the Otto Graham statue in the southwest corner of the stadium and the Jim Brown statue in the southeast corner of the stadium.


Entering Cleveland Browns Stadium brings fans into the main concourses, which are fairly spacious and have plenty of orange highlights to give color to the otherwise dark breezeways. Several banners are honoring Browns players who are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Other highlights include a Joe Thomas mural honoring his 10,363 consecutive snaps played in the NFL.


Inside the seating area, fans will find the three tiers of seating around the field which runs from west to east. The lower bowl is continuous with separated second and third tiers. The south side is the spot to get that perfect center logo picture, which for the 2023 season was Brownie the Elf. The fascia of the third deck is where the Browns showcase their highest honors. The 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964 championships are listed in the southeast corner.


The rest of the fascia notes the members of the Browns Ring of Honour, including Paul Brown, Frank Gatski, Leroy Kelly, Bobby Mitchell, Joe DeLamielleure, Mike McCormack, Lou Grozaand new for the 2023 season, and Joe Thomas. Each end of the stadium features large videoboards which are crystal clear. The other main attraction at Cleveland Browns Stadium is in the lower bowl behind the east endzone, The Dawg Pound, the preeminent team supporter section in the NFL, is found there and has found a bit of a life of its own.


The gameday production at a Browns game is as good as any in the NFL. In the pregame, the Browns enter from the northwest corner through some bulldog statues with gates. The requisite pyro and smoke machine along with flagbearers and cheerleaders are part of the entry. In the pregame, a guest takes a guitar, painted in the fashion of the visiting team, and smashes it against a podium to the delight of the 65,000 fans in attendance. The Browns mascots, Chomps and Brownie, can be found throughout the stadium, interacting with fans.



Neighborhood 5

Despite what seems like a popular narrative, Downtown Cleveland is one of the most underrated areas in the country. Cleveland Browns Stadium is located on the lakeshore, on the northwest side of Downtown Cleveland. There are a ton of options for pre or postgame fare for those who are not tailgating. Some options include Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar, Masthead Brewing Co., Harry Buffalo, Margaritaville, Leather Stallion, and the Winking Lizard.


For fans looking for other sporting options, there are plenty. Just up the road at Progressive Field, fans can find the Cleveland Guardians of MLB. Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is shared by the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA and Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. College basketball is also not that far away from the Cleveland State Vikings. There are also plenty of tourist options that are not based on sports, including the Great Lakes Science Center, USS COD, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, and the must-see, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For fans wishing to stay near the stadium the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, Cleveland Marriott Downtown, and Doubletree Cleveland Downtown are all close by.


Fans 5

Cleveland Browns fans are among the most ardent and loyal in all of sports. In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Browns have averaged more than 67,000 fans per game. Although that ranks the 19th and 20th in the NFL in 2022 and 2023 respectively, that does account for 100% of the capacity. Browns fans are loud and proud and show up regardless of the weather conditions, which should not be underestimated. The Dawg Pound is also the most famous fan area in the NFL.

Access 4

Getting to Cleveland Browns Stadium is not difficult for a downtown stadium. Cleveland Browns Stadium is located along Lake Erie, on the northwest side of Downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Browns Stadium is surrounded by 3rd Street, Alfred Lerner Way, and Erieside Ave with Lake Erie just beyond to the north.


The stadium is north of Cleveland Memorial Shoreway and north and west of I-90 so fans will have to traverse the city a bit when coming from out of town. There are plenty of parking options with the Pier to the north and plenty of downtown garages. The best option is to use a parking app and prepay for parking to ensure a spot. For fans who wish to take public transit to the game, there are a few options. The rapid transit and Amtrack and buses are found to the south. Fans should check out the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority website for fares, maps, and schedules.


Getting around Cleveland Browns Stadium is not too difficult and washroom facilities are decent. With security protocols in professional sports consistently changing, Stadium Journey recommends fans consult the Cleveland Browns website for the most up-to-date security protocols, including prohibited items.



Return on Investment 3

The Cleveland Browns are not a cheap experience, as are all NFL experiences. According to the Fan Cost Index, the Browns are the 17th most expensive experience in the NFL at $593, above the NFL average. Tickets for the Browns begin at $70 and go up to $294 for the lower sidelines. Dawg Pound seats are $189. Concessions are what one would expect for the NFL and parking is going to go for over $20 for sure. Although the return that the Browns give the fans is solid, the steep investment is difficult to get over, as is the case for all NFL experiences


Extras 2

An extra mark for the Dawg Pound, a revolutionary fan experience that began at Panorama at the grassroots and has been copied throughout the NFL.


An extra mark for the perseverance of the Browns fans as they have struggled with many seasons of non-competitive teams since the team’s return in 1999.


Final Thoughts

The Cleveland Browns are a solid NFL experience at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Being part of a fanbase that is as ardent passionate and loyal as any in the NFL is an attractive part of the Browns experience. Cleveland is also a great tourist destination and fans will enjoy making a full weekend of it.


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Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on YouTube, Twitter, Threads and Instagram @profan9.




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