Limited capacity for Cleveland Browns games means another hit for downtown restaurants and bars

The Browns told season ticket holders that the probability of a full stadium is low, and the domino effect will be fewer people downtown spending money.
Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There is nothing quite like a Browns game day in downtown Cleveland, but it certainly appears that the coronavirus pandemic is going to make Sundays anything but normal.

In a letter to season ticket holders the Browns gave fans an out for 2020, promising to hold their seats for 2021 if they wanted a refund for this year’s tickets, or if they want to move their payments towards next year’s tickets.

The Browns offered that deal because, as they said in the letter, there is a low probability of playing football in a full FirstEnergy Stadium.

Smaller crowds will mean less people in downtown Cleveland.

“Browns Sundays on this street, we are the gateway to the stadium, and it is absolutely filled with people ready to go to games,” said Dave Flowers, the general manager of Johnny’s Downtown.

Flowers says the business is surviving because the owners are committed to the community, and to their employees, but it has not been easy.

Johnny’s and Johnny’s Little Bar are both jammed packed before and during Browns games, but limited capacity at the stadium looks as though it means the restaurants will take another hit.

“If they let 20 percent in, what percent is going to feel comfortable coming downtown?” Flowers asked. “It’s really all about the fans and what their decisions are going to be when it comes to be game time.”

At the Flat Iron Cafe in the Flats, they are already missing out on what is, usually, a full house every night the Cleveland Indians are at home.

But Flat Iron owner Dave Steele said he believes if the Browns cut capacity by 60 percent in the stadium, he will see roughly the same drop in his game day business.

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