The Cleveland Browns have added new elements to enhance the fan experience before, during and after games at FirstEnergy Stadium throughout the season, beginning with Saturday's preseason home opener vs. St. Louis.
Throughout Phase I of the two-year renovation project, the Browns emphasized elevating the fan experience and strengthening the team's home field advantage, led by the Dawg Pound.
During one of the NFL's most extensive construction projects to take place over one offseason, the team erected two new Daktronics video boards nearly triple the size of the old units; added modernized LED monitors and ribbon boards; installed a state-of-the-art audio system; increased the lower-bowl seating capacity to improve sightlines; created fan decks to engage the Dawg Pound; and built two new escalators in each end zone, which will be fully accessible for the regular season to support stadium ingress and egress.
"I want people to feel when they are at our stadium, they know they are in Cleveland," said Alec Scheiner, Cleveland Browns executive vice president.
The Browns will also provide all fans a taste of Cleveland at FirstEnergy Stadium, extending the dining selections of local celebrity chefs Chris Hodgson, Jonathan Sawyer, Michael Symon and Rocco Whalen to general concession areas.
In addition to the B Spot and Great Lakes Cheesesteaks stands, located in the west and east end zones, respectively, the team will implement new concession portables during the regular season that offer unique items from Hodgson's Downtown Dogs, Sawyer's Sausage & Peppers and Whalen's Great Lake Cheesesteaks.
"Our hot dog is the one with certified beef. It's got mac and cheese on top of itself. It's not just your normal go-get-a-soggy hot dog," said Chef Chris Hodgson with Downtown Dogs.
In Phase II of the renovation project, to be completed prior to the 2015 season, the club will focus on general admission concessions, emphasizing local offerings; modernized club seats, suites and premium areas; new hospitality and fan engagement locations; and dramatic graphics throughout the concourses and the stadium's exterior.
Dawg Pound Drive on Alfred Lerner Way, a 900-foot engaging space near FirstEnergy Stadium's south gates, is a new family-friendly pregame area that opens three hours prior to kick off.
Each week, the interactive site will feature Browns alumni autographs; a zip line and rock climbing wall; concerts with local bands and disc jockeys on stage; the Browns First and Ten tent; a Pepsi activation space; entertaining games, including kid inflatables, oversized cornhole and a video game truck; Browns merchandise stands; a beer garden; food trucks and additional dining and beverage options.
Taxpayers helped foot the bill on the improvements, with owner Jimmy Haslam tossing in $120 million up front.
"This does not happen without our owner, who fronted $120 million for this project, just for the fans experience. And the city that got on board early, they made everything smooth and they are contributing over the next 15 years. We can't thank Mayor Jackson enough and Ken Silliman and the city of Cleveland," said Scheiner.