On Friday, Tom Withers of the Associated Press reported that the Cleveland Browns will have fans register to attend training camp in Berea this year. Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer received additional information from team president Alec Scheiner, including the status of the Family Fun Night practice at FirstEnergy Stadium. Here is a summary of both stories:
- Scheiner insists that the team was already planning to institute a ticket/registration type of system for training camp before QB Johnny Manziel was drafted. The hype surrounding Manziel only increases the amount of fans the Browns expect to show up at training camp.
- Despite the misery this team has been through since 1999, the Browns fans remain committed to believing a winning team is on the horizon. When I attended Day 4 of training camp in 2013, I was a part of history -- a single-day record 4,466 fans were in attendance (a mark that I believe was broken later in camp). Both articles say that the Browns can accommodate 5,000 fans at training camp. While I believe that to be true, I know for a fact that there have already been times over the past couple of years in which the gates have been closed on late-arriving fans due to the high attendance.
- If implemented correctly, a ticket-system is a good idea. I have no doubt that the Manziel hype will lead to a ridiculous amount of fans wanting to get an early look at him, and this way, the Browns can avoid having fans being pissed off if they make an impromptu trip or take a vacation, only to be turned away. However, when the system is implemented, there needs to immediately be a guaranteed spot for those who register in time. People need to know well in advance what dates they should inform their bosses that they will be using vacation time, for example.
- If it were me, I would probably cap the attendance at 4,500 fans per day, and even consider going lower. Yet, you want to take advantage of the demand, but you also don't want to pack people in like sardines, especially when most of the action usually takes place on one field.
- The Browns made a lot of nice changes to the training camp atmosphere last year, and there have been continued talks about moving camp elsewhere to accommodate larger crowds. My argument would be this -- the team invested a lot of money rebuilding the inside headquarters, so why not invest some money on the outside area as well? There are currently four football fields in Berea. That could be converted into one full-sized field, and bleachers could be constructed all around it -- ones that could hold many thousands of fans. It would be an ambitious project, but I don't expect it to come to fruition.
- Regarding Family Fun Night at the Stadium this year, Scheiner said that the Browns are still exploring whether it can be held at the stadium (due to the renovations), or if there are alternative sites it can be held at. From Cabot's interview:
"We've got to figure out where we are in our renovation and if there are any other alternatives,'' he said. "We're sensitive to it and we're working through it. ... Ideally the family night takes place at a certain time, not close up to your third preseason game and we have a lot of work going on (FirstEnergy Stadium),'' he said. "I don't want to rule it out, but we definitely have to figure out if there are any alternatives. The same will hold true for next year when we're in phase two.''
What do you think, Browns fans? Do you like the idea of having to register online in order to attend training camp?