No tailgating, no crowds: Browns home opener totally different experience for fans this year


CLEVELAND (WJW) — No tailgating, no crowds and no trouble finding somewhere to park. The first home game for the Cleveland Browns is unlike any fans have ever seen.

Due to COVID-19, only a fraction of the 60,000 plus fans were allowed inside FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday night, but diehards are still rooting for their team.

“It’s a completely different experience than it normally would be for a home opener… we’d be down in the Muni Lot for at least a few hours by now,” said season ticket holder Tiffany Soggs.

The city of Cleveland banned tailgating in the Muni Lot, and there were no raucous crowds in the Warehouse District.  It was hard to believe the scene downtown.

“There’s not much of a buzz right now, people are home, they know they can’t go to the game… there’s no tailgating, which absolutely stinks,” said Browns fan Daniel Clarke.

As it got closer to game time, more fans showed up for pre-game excitement at The Barley House on West 6th Street. But regular game day patrons say the atmosphere is highly unusual.

“Normally, we wouldn’t even be able to get in here this late, you have to come down here in the afternoon to be able to get a seat, so to be able to walk right in, it’s just weird, it’s a weird feeling,” said Randy Grays.

“The parking is way down, that’s good, you ain’t gotta pay expensive for the parking, but this is definitely weird,” said Tra Kuykendall.

The view from SkyFOX HD showed very little activity around the stadium before game time. When the gates eventually opened two hours before kickoff, there was not even a line.

“It’s basically like a ghost town right now, I mean, there’s like nobody in line…usually we’re lined up, like way out there,” said Jesse Trumbull, who attended the game with his son and his friends from college.

Only 6,000 people were allowed inside for Thursday night’s game. They were spread out in pods in the lower deck only. In fact, zip ties were blocking off seats, forcing social distancing.

“When we go into the game, it’s only… we’re gonna be two of six thousand people and even though we’re sitting in the Dawg Pound, it’s not gonna be the typical Dawg Pound experience at all,” said Soggs.

“It’ll be great to enjoy the game without fans even…it’ll still be a good time, I think,” said Max Trumbull.

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