I admit it: I’m a 26-year-old Clevelander who only recently had her first Browns tailgating experience. Why had I never done it before? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t really that into Cleveland sports until I became a downtowner, and for that 3-year time period I didn’t see the point in driving 3 blocks to pay $30 for parking. I don’t know.
Me and the BF, James
The point is, for this year’s home opener, the BF and a couple of friends and I got tickets in the Dawg Pound, bought some tailgating supplies and decided to wake up at 6:00 in the morning on a Sunday to start drinking and watch some football.
Here’s what I learned:
The Early Bird Gets the Parking Spot.
OK, so I knew that Clevelanders were serious about their tailgating, but really — Clevelanders are SERIOUS about their tailgating. Wake-up-earlier-on-a-Sunday-than-you-should-during-the-workweek serious.
After packing the cars, meeting up with the friends and getting downtown by the stadium, the time was about 8:45 AM, and the infamous Pit lot was full… Well, almost full. To stay there, we would have had to park on a hill. So instead, we decided to turn around and venture to another lot where the parking would be less precarious. At that point, we didn’t even try to make it to the Muni lot — we just decided to find somewhere to park and so we could get down to business.
Where to Park? (Pit versus Muni Lot)
In the week before the game, I tried to find information online about whether the Muni or the Pit lot was better, because those are the only lots I had ever heard about, and have heard dueling views about which offers more fun. What I found is that it really doesn’t matter, but one difference may essentially be that the Muni is full of old-school fans that have been at this forever, whereas the Pit tends to be a younger crowd. But, all I know from personal experience is that those people wake up too early for me.
The truth? You can park in just about any lot near the stadium, and people will be drinking, grilling and barking by 9 AM. We ended up in a lot across Rt. 2 from the Muni, at the Burke Lakefront airport. Here are two things that made this lot awesome:
- Parking was only $20. We even took up two spots, but only had to pay for one. A friend of mine said that her friends, who have tricked out an old truck into a tailgating machine, had to pay for four spots at the Pit, for a total of $120. That’s about what we paid for two tickets to the game.
- The airport kept its lobby open, and let tailgaters us the bathrooms. Ladies: this means not having to resort to the alternatives of port-a-potties, squatting in public or making friends with strangers that own an RV.
And, there were still plenty of people to make tailgating in this lot a damn good time, without getting so crazy that I feared for my safety. Oh, and it took a surprisingly short amount of time to get out after the game. Win! (Even though we lost.)
You Will Never See More Cornhole Per Capita Anywhere Else.
That’s it. Cleveland tailgaters love their bean bag toss.
Drink Heavily Before Entering the Stadium.
When I went to a game last year, I thought that maybe the only reason my only beer options were Bud Light and Bud Light was because I was in the nosebleeds. While this is somewhat true — other stands expand offerings to include a few other mass-produced options — craft beer isn’t available anywhere in the stadium. Not even Great Lakes. Seriously. I asked at least five stadium employees, and half of them basically laughed at me.
And, the limited beer selection the stadium does offer will set you back $8 for a 16 ounce. So, if part of your ultimate football experience is keeping a warm fuzzy feeling even when the Browns are losing, and you don’t wan to bend over for shitty beer, guzzle before kickoff.
Bonus to this approach: you’ll definitely be sober in time to drive home.
The same general concept applies to food, of course. Half the fun of tailgating is grilling some grub. Enjoy it. A lot of it. Because everything in the stadium is overly priced, and most of it is likely mediocre in taste. Personally, I recommend stopping by the West Side Market the day before and picking up some brats from Old Country Sausage.
Bring Plastic Cups.
While I’m on the subject of drinking: Though I don’t know the official rules, I believe there’s some sort of caveat that, although the police know people are drinking, it’s allowed because they don’t really KNOW people are drinking. Because people pour alcoholic bevvies into plastic cups (not clear ones), so that drink labels, cup contents, etc. aren’t visible. So, be sure to pack those.
(I like the SOLO cups with the mini chalkboard-type deal that lets you write your name on the cup with your fingernail. Then you know whose is whose without having to bring a marker.)
Prepare for the Aftermath.
By the time the BF and I got home from the game (around 5:30 or 6 PM), we were pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day. Tailgating — at least at the ripe old age of 26 — really takes it out of you. Or perhaps it was just the five hours of drinking followed by no drinking, which typically ends in tiredness no matter the activities involved.
Either way, I was tuckered out. I did, however, pop a few painkillers before falling asleep, which I’m sure helped keep me decent the following day. So, that’s probably a good tip, too.
Tailgating is Fun.
There’s a reason why this activity is a favorite pastime of Clevelanders — tailgating is so much fun. I’ll definitely be back at least once this year. Even if I don’t get tickets to another game.
Filed under: Cleveland sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: Cleveland Browns, tailgating | Leave a Comment »