CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland is bracing for a big sports weekend with the kind of energy not felt downtown in a couple of years.
Not only are the Guardians in an important five-game series with the Twins to hold on to the lead in the AL Central, but the Browns home opener is also happening Sunday.
Kick-off at FirstEnergy Stadium is 1 p.m. and first pitch at Progressive Field is at 1:40 p.m..
“It’s going to be awesome out here this Sunday,” said Hector Cirilo. “Guardians going to be packed, Browns going to be packed. It’s going to be great.”
Potentially more than 100,000 people could be downtown just inside of the venues with thousands more filling bars, restaurants and tailgate lots.
Both teams recommend fans arrive before 11 a.m.
Afterwards, multiple roads and routes will be closed.
“The only access route to the stadium is from 55th Street or from Route 2 and North Marginal,” said Rob McBurnett, Browns Director of Communications.
RTA will be running Red, Blue and Green lines. However, the Waterfront Line remains suspended.
“Also we know there are great tailgating lots, but don’t forget it’s a 20 to 30 minute walk. You can see the stadium but it takes a little longer to walk there than you might think,” said McBurnett.
Fans say they can’t wait.
“I came all the way from San Diego, California,” said Derek Ferrell.
Another fan traveled from around the world.
“From Perth, Australia. I took four flights, 36 hours, just to come here for the Browns on Sunday,” said Kim Juhasz.
When asked how an Aussie becomes a Browns fan, he said, “I wanted to pick a team many years ago that hadn’t had success and didn’t want to get on a bandwagon so I took the Cleveland Browns.”
Now, he’s diehard just like all other Brownies stoked for the new season.
“I bleed orange and brown,” said Steve Johnson, whose entire family will begin tailgating at 4:30 a.m.
Those going to the Guardians should also anticipate heavy traffic and higher parking prices.
That’s OK, says Stephanie Cirilo, who’s taking in a couple of Guardians games this weekend with her husband.
“I’m absolutely in love with the Guardians this year. It’s so much fun watching them and they keep winning,” said Cirilo.
New technology is expected to help expedite entry into FirstEnergy
Browns Express Access Facial Ticket Authentication will be offered at both main entry gates, but fans should enroll before the game.
“It lets a fan link a selfie with their ticketing account so fans can come in without pulling out their phone and really quickly they can enter the stadium,” said Brandon Covert, Browns vice president of information technology.
Also this year, as first reported by the FOX 8 I-Team, Evolv’s AI security screening will be used at both main south gates too. It’s basically a touchless security screening so fans can get inside faster with less fuss.
“You just walk through. You don’t have to take anything out of your pockets. It’s all very secure and uses AI technology. You just walk right through,” said McBurnett.
That’s just scratching the surface of what’s new at the stadium.
Although, fans say they’re just thrilled to see both teams winning.
“I’m very excited about it, especially with the Browns to have an opportunity to go 2-0 and an opportunity for the Guardians to win the Central. Can’t get better than that,” said Derek Ferrell.