CLEVELAND — For the first time in nearly two years the Cleveland Browns will host fans at FirstEnergy Stadium at full capacity as they take on the Houston Texans in the 2021 home opener. With tens of thousands of rowdy football lovers preparing to flood the stadium gates Sunday afternoon, there are some things to know beforehand.
What time does the game start?
FirstEnergy Stadium gates open at 11 a.m. Sunday and the game kicks off at 1 p.m. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski made a request to fans to be in their seats at kickoff to bring the energy right away Sunday.
The team reminds fans to give themselves ample time to get through security and into their seats before kickoff, especially considering the number of fans who will be in attendance.
How can I make sure I'm in my seat on time?
The Browns offered a number of best practices for fans to ensure the most efficient entry into FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
Before the game, fans should download the Browns Mobile App and also access their tickets in advance, adding them to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay and transferring them to the guests in their party ahead of time. Fans should be downtown by 11:30 a.m. and head to the stadium early with their mobile ticket ready to be scanned.
Fans can also enroll in the Express Access program, which utilizes touchless, facial recognition technology with their tickets. Fans upload a selfie and valid ticket to the game under their account. Once at the game, fans with the Express Access program will receive a confirmation email that will allow those with it to enter the stadium seamlessly through the marked Express Access lanes at each gate without the need to present a ticket.
When does the Muni Lot open?
While buses and other tailgating vehicles began lining up Saturday morning, the Muni Lot, Cleveland's popular tailgating area, does not open until 7 a.m. Sunday.
Those planning to head to the Muni Lot for pregame festivities are encouraged to arrive early. Traffic officers will be on site directing traffic.
What are the Muni Lot rules?
While some rules are more strictly enforced than others, Cleveland police remind tailgaters of Muni Lot protocols including:
- No open pit fires
- Propane grills only (No charcoal)
- No alcohol
- Saving spaces prohibited
- You will be charged for all parking spaces that you occupy
- No in & out privileges
- All litter must be dispensed in trash containers
- Vandalism of any type will not be tolerated
- Crossing the shoreway is prohibited
- No private latrines.
- Lanes must remain clear of activity at all times
Cleveland police said violation of the rules may result in ejection from the parking lot.
Are there vaccination and masking policies at the stadium?
At this time, there are no mask or vaccine mandates in place at FirstEnergy Stadium. However, the team "strongly encourages" fans, regardless of the vaccination status, to wear a mask when in indoor spaces like the concourse, Browns Pro Shop, elevators, and club areas.
Fans who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all times unless actively eating or drinking.
What are the traffic changes for the game?
The Browns issued the following information regarding traffic changes ahead of Sunday's game:
- Vehicles commuting into downtown are recommended to use alternate traffic routes and minimize usage of the Shoreway’s E 9th Street, Lakeside Avenue/W 6th Street and W 3rd Street.
- Continuing in 2019, road closures of East 9th and West 3rd Streets will be implemented between Lakeside Avenue and FirstEnergy Stadium, including Shoreway/State Route 2 exits around the stadium. Rolling road closures will begin 1.5 hours prior to kickoff and end after postgame egress.
- Recommended entry points to Downtown Cleveland are W 25th Street off Eastbound Route 2 when approaching from the west side of Cleveland and Superior Avenue off 90 W when coming from the east side. Additionally, this recommendation to use W 25th Street off Eastbound Route 2 is notable as W 6th Street will be closed as part of the rolling pregame road closures.
- During the road closures that begin 90 minutes prior to kickoff (see above), all Browns parking pass holders and guests with disability drop-offs will only be able to reach FirstEnergy Stadium by use of North Marginal Road from East 55th Street (Exit 175 on I-90).
What players will be in the game?
As of Saturday, there have been two Browns players ruled out for Sunday's game—wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) and offensive lineman Chris Hubbard (tripceps). Offensive lineman Michael Dunn (back), cornerback Troy Hill (hamstring/foot), wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (knee), center JC Tretter (knee) and left tackle Jedrick Wills (ankle) were all listed as questionable prior to the game.
The Browns will release a final injury report with a list of inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff.
How can I watch if I'm not going to the stadium?
Kick things off on News 5 at 11 a.m. Sunday with Browns Countdown. Jon Doss, Hanford Dixon, Je'Rod Cherry and Nathan Zegura will break down everything you need to know before the game.
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This season, fans will also be able to watch games for free online with Yahoo! Sports via ClevelandBrowns.com on mobile web and the Browns mobile app, as long as the viewer is within the local broadcast radius. Links to watch the games will be posted on the website and mobile app.
Listen to the game live on FM radio stations 92.3 The Fan and 98.5 WNCX, or on ESPN 850 on the AM dial. The radio broadcasts are also available on the Browns website and app.
After the second quarter, head to the News 5 Cleveland Facebook page to watch News 5's Halftime Live with Doss and Camryn Justice.
After the game, catch up with Derek Forrest during News 5 at 11.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.