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Browns Fans Rally Against Municipal Lot Time Change

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Larry Oliver has pulled his van into the Muni Lot at 4am for several years now.

Cleveland Browns fans have often been called some of the best fans in the world. Reason being no matter how bad the team may be (one of the worst in the NFL since their return in 1999), its fans still flock to the stadium every Sunday to watch the games. However, this season, unless the Browns show marked improvement, that may change.

While Al Lerner answered the fans’ cries for a new team management structure, the city of Cleveland now must answer to them as well. This past Saturday, while tailgating before the Browns’ preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, many fans caught wind of plans to not only raise of the price to park in the Municipal Lot from $15 to $20, but to also push back the lot’s opening time from 4a.m. to 7a.m.

The result was a massive outcry. Outraged season ticket holders, led by Larry Oliver and Chuck Dean, are protesting this change to the best of their ability, while still following the first amendment to the Bill of Rights.

In addition to creating a Facebook page called “The Muni lot should open at 4am on game days,” the two men also created an online petition addressed to Cleveland Commissioner Liegh Stevens, asking him to reconsider the decision.

Furthermore, the controversy was also covered by Cleveland channel five news affiliate WEWS. Larry was interviewed by the station and the report was aired on a recent newscast.

The efforts are not going unnoticed. Browns fans all over the city are rallying around Larry and Chuck, as the petition as of this writing garnered almost 1,000 signatures in only two days.

Because I have only been to one regular season Browns game in my entire life and did not participate in any tailgate activities, I cannot fully come to grips with the impact of these changes to the “Muni Lot.” However, I do have some understanding of what it means to season ticket holders.

Larry Oliver is my cousin’s long-time boyfriend and a good friend of mine. During Browns discussions with him at family parties, I heard many stories of tailgating rituals and how it enhances relationships between the fans. Last year I experienced that for the first time when I joined my cousin, Larry, Chuck Dean, and many of their friends for my first tailgating experience. I stood in amazement as I witnessed the interaction between those in the Muni Lot that day. Though it was only a preseason game, fans embraced the culture they have shared together as if it were a real regular season game. Many of these fans have attended these sessions for so long that it seemed like they banded together as an extended family. This past Saturday I joined them all again. Despite the nonstop pouring rain which plagued the entire time, nothing changed. They answered all my questions as to why they would wake up at 3a.m. on a Sunday and spend over twelve hours downtown near Lake Erie, especially once cold weather set in for the year.

Because I am not much of a drinker, I did not see much point in tailgating until I finally witnessed it for the first time. Tailgating is not about fans having the opportunity to drink in public without fear of incarceration. I encountered many fans who choose not to indulge. Instead, it is about fans banding together and connecting at a deeper level to better support their team. Fans who do not participate in tailgate activities still do come together at the stadium during games, but the season ticket holders who do this every Sunday know each other better than a few random fans sitting near each other in their seats during select games.

The theory is the time change for when the Municipal Lot opens is another part of Browns President Mike Holmgren’s efforts to crack down on unruly fans. The thought is by opening the lot later, that is three hours less the fans get to drink, resulting in less intoxication during games.

While there is some weight behind this theory, I truly believe that this time change is really cutting down on time between Browns fans and their extended family. Right now, in support of a struggling franchise, there is nothing more important than family.

Credit for image: Larry Oliver

Credit for video link: http://www.newsnet5.com

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Written by apokorny

August 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm

One Response

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  1. For fans who tailgate, being able to get their early and bond with other fans is part of the experience! Being able to sit and relax before the game starts in that setting adds to the experience of going to Browns games! I’ve not done much tailgating but understand how many fans enjoy this as a ritual before heading into the stadium.

    Jeff Sabo

    August 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm


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