Browns Stadium opened in 1999, and it is the new home of the Cleveland Browns. The Stadium was built
on the site of the old Cleveland Stadium, which was demolished after the old Browns moved to Baltimore
in 1996. The configuration and topography of the venue is such that it is hard to even picture how the old
stadium was laid out.

The stadium is designed and built much like the new generation of NFL venues such as Baltimore, Tampa
Bay and except for the closed end zones, actually bore a striking resemblance to the Coliseum in Nashville.
It is built on the shores of Lake Erie, and ample parking and easy access to downtown makes this an easy
facility to access.

The team did not sell naming rights to the stadium, but rather solicited corporate sponsors for each of the
four gates... the names of these corporations are displayed everywhere and printed on the tickets as well.
The one drawback in terms of being a sponsor is that these companies get no play on television... tune in
and you will see "Live from Cleveland Browns Stadium", not "Live from Cleveland Browns Stadium and the
Corecomm, Steris, National City and Cleveland Clinic Gates".

The facility itself is beautiful, although we still rate M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and Raymond James
Stadium in Tampa as somewhat nicer. There are many amenities to add to the experience - for the
premium ticket holders there is a private club level as well as a membership only facility called the
"Legends Club" which offers a pregame buffet. For the average fan there is a terrific complex at the main
entrance called "Gridiron Square" which includes a large sports bar and restaurant, a huge team store with
attractive displays and a big selection of merchandise, and a Browns Hall of Fame. On the lake side is an
indoor/outdoor concession area called the "Budweiser Barking Lot", which was sort of a huge beer garden.
All the concession stands have a football motif  (e.g. "Punt, Pass and Pizza") on the marquees and a great
food selection.

And just as in St. Louis, on the inside main concourse there is a permanent display listing all the team's
charter PSL holders handsomely engraved on the wall. Their building is sold out on a season ticket basis
and there is a waiting list for season tickets. The team sells 3000 of the cheapest seats on a game by
game basis to single seat buyers.

The bowl is also attractive - with all seats in team colors and the helmet logo molded into each seat. Along
the field wall there is a decorative Browns mural ringing the entire field. Jumbotrons at both ends, and three
separate information boards... one with streaming individual game stats, one with out of town scores, and
the third with 3 clocks --- time of day, time in the game and a 40 second clock... nice. Oh.. and another
favorite --- a uniform changeable ad panel on each upper deck.

The "Dawg Pound" theme is everywhere - nacho chips are sold in dog food dishes; a great souvenir is a
brown and orange dog collar for people to wear, and professional sports'  tired anthem  "who let the dogs
out?" is TOTALLY appropriate here, and rightfully should be adopted by the Browns (We are SO SICK of this
song!).

We were wondering what kind of experience we would have as far as the staff working the game... would it
be the warm friendly ushers and staff who work the Cavs games, or the surly and ornery folks who run the
show at the Indians games? Gratefully, the personnel were very nice.. after our ticket was torn, there was
actually a "greeter" at the gates, stopping fans at random to welcome them and praise their outfits. Nice
touch!

Retired numbers/Banners
One of the deals when the old team left was that the nickname, colors, and team history and records would
remain in Cleveland. We were surprised, then, not to see any wall of fame, ring of fame, retired numbers or
championship banners anywhere. The Hall of Fame we mentioned earlier had very little to it. Furthermore,
there was not even one photo of the old stadium anywhere to be found. Granted it was a pretty dismal
place, and pretty gut wrenching as far as memories, especially for the Indians.. but is still a part of their
heritage, and it has pretty much been obliterated. We thought that was too bad. Of course, the Browns
haven't had too much to cheer about in recent times..most of their great moments occurred in the 40s in the
AAFC and then in the 50s in the NFL. Judging from the team's performance on our first visit, their fans could
be in for a long wait.

Overall, we found Cleveland Browns Stadium to be a terrific place and one we would go back to in a
heartbeat...

Touchdowns, extra points, fumbles...

Extra point ...Cleveland has its Dawg Pound, Wrigley has its bleachers and St. Louis has its Big Mac Land...
ways of putting an aura or a mystique on the crummiest seats in the house...  But somehow the new Dawg
Pound has lost the mystique of its predecessor in the old stadium.

Touchdown... Nachos served in dog food bowl.

Touchdown... a 99 yard pass play, no less, which we witnessed on our return visit, only the 11th time this
has happened in NFL history.

Extra point... On our first visit here in 2000, we had our car towed even though we had left our vehicle in a
legally marked spot. We tempted fate again on our return visit, parked for free, and our car was there after
the game! Worth a mention.


SCORING:
Architecture: 6.5
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 7.5
Ushers 7
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 8
Banners and history 4
In game entertainment 6
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Tailgate scene  2.5, Dawg Pound 1, Named gates 1
Total 63.5
FirstEnergy Stadium
#54


Cleveland
Browns Stadium



Cleveland,
Ohio



October 29,
2000




Cincinnati
Bengals
at Cleveland
Browns



return
visit



October 17,
2004



Cincinnati
Bengals
at
Cleveland
Browns