I’m not sure we can ever adequately prepare you for Browns football in Cleveland.
If you haven’t grown up in Browns onesies, lived through a litany of epic failures, spent three years in the NFL wilderness because the team owner packed up for another city, or gritted your teeth through the Charlie Frye, Jeff Garcia, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel eras of Browns quarterback futility, I’m not sure we can really, truly make you understand.
You know what? Forget all that. All of it. (At least, that’s what my therapist tells me to do.)
Browns history starts anew this season, and you’ve got a front row seat to watch it all go down.
There’s no time to explain, just get on the bandwagon – and grab a beer – as we show you how to ride it all the way to Brownstown like a true Browns Fan.
1. Get Your Head in the Game
Yes. We know they’ve still got work to do, but how can you not get excited about this team? Regardless of the outcome, Browns fans will still be out there every game day cheering for the team they love in the city they love, as they have for years.
Our advice? Enjoy the ride. Even if you’re not as optimistic as a Browns fan, hanging around with one is going to rub off on you. Grab a beer and bark your head off with the rest of us, then, win or lose, we’ll grab another beer and get ready for the next game. If it’s truly about the journey, you’re not going to find a journey as fun as Cleveland’s.
2. Report to the Muni Lot
Image © Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
We’re going to help you with parking and other logistics below, but there is one parking lot that rules them all: the Muni Lot.
For decades, the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot has hosted one of the NFL’s can’t-miss tailgate experiences. Browns diehards start grabbing spots before sunrise, staking their claim for the all-day party that will erupt around them.
Orange and brown (or dawg-themed) school buses, ice cream trucks, ambulances and more dot the muniscape, giving off a vibe that’s more “Mad Max” than “Draft Day.” Accompanying this vehicular village is a spread of gourmet game day eats that will get your mouth watering the minute you step in the lot.
Sure, there are other ways to enjoy the game, but the Muni Lot is an experience unto itself.
3. Be Prepared for the Dawg Pound
Those of us who’ve grown up in Cleveland have heard its legends. Smuggling a keg of beer into old Cleveland Municipal Stadium by hiding it in a wooden doghouse. Dog biscuits, ice balls and more thrown onto the field. Some of the most inventive and melodic uses of curse words you’ve ever heard. This was the Dawg Pound.
While the Dawg Pound isn’t the legend it used to be, it’s bigger and about as crazy as modern polite society will allow. In fact, on any given Sunday, the entire stadium now adopts that same persona as we bark (and drink) and will our team to victory, regardless of the results.
It's been a wild ride even through the lean years, imagine what this capacity crowd will be like when we're *gasp* winning football games.
4. Join the Worldwide Party
The Browns Backers are a worldwide organization of Browns fans boasting over 100,000 members in 363 clubs across 15 countries. Browns watch parties are happening around the globe, but some of the best are right here at home.
We get that you have a nice TV and that wings are readily available via delivery apps, but you can’t just spend this season at home. You’ve got to get out there with the rest of us dawgs and take all the excitement in.
The good news is we’ve got a list of some of the best game day spots in Cleveland all ready to go. The bad news? You have to put pants on.
5. Adopt the Local Fashion
Wherever you decide to watch the game, you have to gear up in the Orange and Brown. Your style choices can go one of three ways:
Official Team Gear
The easiest way to go. Grab whatever licensed apparel is available in the Browns Team Shop at the stadium or any sporting goods store. I mean, the brown jersey is classic, but then again the white jerseys are so clean. Still, as the saying goes: why buy one when you can get two for twice the price?
Throwback jerseys are always a safe play, whether they’re Bernie Kosar, Joe Thomas or the greatest football player of all-time, Jim Brown. But consider Brownie the Elf. Brownie was a beloved mascot for the Browns during their heyday in the 40s through the championship 60s. And while he faded from memory after that, that spunky little sprite has made a resurgence in recent years, making merch with his cute little mug easy to find.
You know how crazy this city is about football, but you should know that we have some of the most talented artists and designers in the country here, as well. If you’re looking for some Browns gear with a more modern spin, check out any of the great apparel options from local designers like CLE Clothing Co. and GV Art + Design for starters.
6. Park and Public Transpo like a Pro
One of the benefits Cleveland has over other cities is how easy it is to get around. If you’re staying anywhere Downtown, FirstEnergy Stadium is just a short walk away. If you’re staying outside the city, or just heading out to one of the many killer watch parties in The Land, you’ve got options aplenty.
As far as traffic and parking goes, visit the stadium’s website for more information on parking, traffic and game day road closures, and download the Browns Mobile App from the App Store and Google Play Store today.
Public transportation, courtesy of Greater Cleveland RTA, offers tons of great options for getting around on game day. Jump on the rail line from any stop in the area heading Downtown, get off at Tower City, then stroll with your Dawg Pound brethren down to FirstEnergy Stadium. An All-Day Pass is only $5.00, so jump back on after the game and head home the same way you came. Visit GCRTA’s website for more ways to get around, including the city’s bus and trolley lines.
7. Find a Place to Crash…Hard
Image © Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
Maybe you have to get up early for that weekly tailgate party, or maybe it’s the end of the day and you celebrated a Browns win rather … robustly. In either case, you’ve done it right. Make your life a little easier and crash at one of these world-class hotels, no further than a half-mile from FirstEnergy Stadium.