Cleveland Browns fans can expect to see major changes at FirstEnergy Stadium when the gates open Saturday night.
Phase one of a two year $120 million plan to make substantial upgrades to the stadium is almost complete. Most of the money to pay for the upgrades has come from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
At times more than 200 constructions workers were at the stadium moving two million pounds of steel and pouring more than 13 million pounds of new concrete.
Saturday the Browns will take the field for their third preseason game against the St. Louis Rams and fans will get to see the improvements in person for the first time.
BROWNS: The Road to 2014
While most of the attention will be focused on the action down on the field fans should take a moment to stop and take a look around.
The highlight of the construction project will be a pair of all new scoreboards which will be the fourth largest in the NFL. A new audio system is also in place.
BREAKDOWN: 2014 Schedule
The goal is to get you, the fan, down to the stadium to experience the action in person.
It's been 15 years since any major improvements have happened at the stadium. This year the Browns organization says they have renovated" for some winning football.
August 21, 2014: President of the Cleveland Browns Alec Scheiner talks FirstEnergy Stadium upgrades with WKYC's Kris Pickel and Russ Mitchell. WKYC-TV
Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, is showing a flair for the dramatic with a major investment into the fan experience.
When fans file into FirstEnergy Stadium they'll be able to see the action better than ever on a a pair GIANT new video scoreboards.
The components for the giant new video monitors were shipped in from South Dakota during the off-season.
Last November city leaders approved the construction plans to renovate the stadium.
Taxpayers are also helping to foot the bill. $30 million in public money is being used to cover some of the improvement costs.
The Browns are paying for the changes upfront, borrowing $60 million from the NFL.
The city has also agreed to pay $2 a year over the next 15 years from the general fund.
August 21, 2014: Fancy new food options at FirstEnergy Stadium. WKYC-TV
Fans can expect to see more food options that will highlight items from many of Cleveland's award-winning chefs and local restaurateurs.
You'll see menus from Chris Hodgson, Jonathan Sawyer, Michael Symon and Rocco Whalen in the general concessions area, which only had been available in premium areas.
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As part of the first-phase renovation, stands will be added to Symon's B Spot to the west zone. In the east zone, there will also be menus from Whalen, Rocco's Great Lakes Cheesesteaks, which all ticketed fans can access.
Fans can also pay homage to the Dawg Pound by ordering the "Bad-to-the-Bone Bologna," fried all-beef bologna cut in the shape of Dawg bones. The sandwich tops off with sweet pickles, white American cheese, Chomp's secret spicy sauce, on a soft white role. It comes with crinkle-cut chips and a side of bologna cheese sauce.
SLIDESHOW: Jimmy Haslam at Browns practice
General concessions also will have new portable concepts from the chef partners on the main concourse. You can find them on both sides of FirstEnergy Stadium.
Michael Symon's B Spot menu highlights:
- Fat Doug: Burger topped with coleslaw, pastrami, Swiss cheese & mustard
- Thin Lizzy: Burger with griddled onions, cheddar cheese, mayo and pickles
- Plain Jane: Burger topped with lettuce, tomato & onion
- The Clevelander Brat: Brat topped with coleslaw and hot sauce
- Lola Fries
- Vanilla Bean Apple Pie Bacon Shake
Rocco Whalen's Great Lake Cheesesteaks menu highlights:
- The Tremonster: Sliced Sirloin, Fancy Mushrooms, Whizzy Bechemel, Green Onion
- Ohio City Market Sausage: Ground Sausage, West Side Market Onions & Peppers, Fresh Mozzarella, Pepperoncini Relish, Basil
- Detroit Shoreway Dog: All Beef Frank, Stadium Mustard, Ketchup, Crumbled Bacon, Tomato, Cucumber
- Cleveland Nachos: Spiral Cut Chips, Parmesan Fondue, Green Onion, Crumbled Bacon, Thyme
- Orange Chips: Sweet Potato Chips, Maple Glaze, Mallow, Candied Pecans
- Truffle Fries: Fries, Parmesan, Rosemary, Truffle Oil
Jonathon Sawyer's Sausage & Peppers
- Classic Italian Sausage: Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions, Fennel, Tomato, Vinegar
- Cheesy Cheddar & Hot Pepper Sausage: Cheddar & Hot Pepper Sausage, Corn, Black Beans, Queso
- Savory Maple Breakfast Sausage: Breakfast Link, Maple, Waffle Bun
Rocco Whalen's Great Lake Cheesesteaks
- The Tremonster: Sliced Sirloin, Fancy Mushrooms, Whizzy Bechemel, Green Onion
- The Rustbelt: Chicken, Buffalo Wing Butter, Bleu Cheese Dressing, Celery
Chris Hodgson's Downtown Dogs
- Cheesy Wonder Dog: Certified Angus Beef (CAB) Dog, Mac n Cheese, Golden Mustard BBQ Glaze, Maple Bacon, Green Onion
- Coney Dog: CAB Dog, Coney Chili, Cheese Sauce, Chopped Onion
- Maui Wowie Dog: CAB Dog, Pineapple Salsa, Bacon, Shredded Mozzarella, Honey Mustard Sauce
Coming downtown on Saturday? With three games in three different stadiums all starting the festivities in the late afternoon, the traffic will be a factor starting well before the first pitch and the kick-offs.
The city says there will be no parking on East Ninth Street, Ontario Street and at marked areas on Lakeside Avenue and Prospect Road.
The restrictions will be posted in advance.
Cleveland police urge fans to arrive early, to use public transportation if possible, and to use city parking garages.
If you don't obey the signs and park there anyway, know that you can retrieve your impounded vehicle at the One Stop Impound Lot at 3040 Quigley Road between 10 a.m. and midnight...for a fee.
First, where can you park in the Gateway District for Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field?
GATEWAY PARKING: Where to park for Progressive Field and The Q
MORE GATEWAY PARKING/PRICES: Where to park and what it will cost
Where can you park close to FirstEnergy Stadium?
- North Port Authority Lot - located north of the stadium with access via West 3rd Street
- West Third Street Lot - located directly west of the stadium with access via West 3rd Street
- Dock 20 Lot - located west of West 3rd Street lot with access via West 9th Street
- Dock 32 Lot - located northeast of the stadium with access from Erieside Avenue
- Parking at the Great Lakes Science Center lot is restricted to passholders on gamedays
- Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot: Located across the Shoreway from FirstEnergy Stadium on S. Marginal Road, this lot is tailgating central before Browns games. There are 2,000 spaces, portable restrooms, and parking is $20. This lot opens at 7 a.m. game days.
More Affordable Parking Options?
Parking gets cheaper as you move down towards The Flats and Public Square. One such option is the Canal Basin lot at 1519 Merwin Avenue in the Flats, with 228 spaces
Other Parking Lots
Willard Park Lot - 601 Lakeside Avenue; 1,500 spaces
Take RTA to FirstEnergy Stadium
The West Third Station on RTA's Waterfront Line is just steps away from FirstEnergy Stadium. Access this line from Public Square or connect from both sides of the city by transferring from the red, green, or blue lines. All day passes are $5 for adults and $2.50 for seniors (65 and older) and children 6-12. Children under age 6 ride free. Extra trains begin running two hours prior to the game and continue after the game as long as needed.
CHECK OUT RTA: Take RTA into and around downtown Cleveland
By the Associated Press
Johnny Manziel's newest teammate with the Browns has four legs and can roll over on command.
A dog named Swagger will lead them onto the field this season, Cleveland team vice president of marketing Kevin Griffin revealed in a radio interview.
Griffin says the dog is a bull mastiff, described by The American Kennel Club as a dog "that possesses great intelligence and a willingness to please, making them ideal family companions and protectors."
Swagger is an attempt to re-connect with Cleveland's Dawg Pound of the past. The notoriously rowdy bleacher section in old Municipal Stadium gave Cleveland one of the best home-field advantages.
August 21, 2014: Watch Jim Donovan's one-on-one interview with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in the newly renovated FirstEnergy Stadium. WKYC-TV