BEREA, OHIO — With the new-look Cleveland Browns back in Berea for training camp, swarms of faithful fans are descending on the city of 18,000 people. With parking spaces at a premium for the first few days of training camp, many residents, businesses and churches have opened their properties to allow fans to park. One church in particular, Mount Zion Baptist Church, uses the influx of Browns fans to raise money for the church’s ongoing ministries.
“It helps different organizations if they want to have an outing or take a trip or whatever, that’s some extra money in the coffer for them,” said parishioner Keith Sullivan. “These days, every little bit helps.”
Sullivan and two other church members, Randall Gettys and Carl Robertson, popped out three fold-out chairs and watched over the church’s property, which can accommodate up to 60 vehicles. The church also leases out part of its property to the Browns for VIP parking.
Gettys said the crowds were as large as they have been in years past. The difference this year, however, is how early fans have arrived at training camp.
“They would start parking at 7:30 for a practice that starts at 10 o’clock. Everybody is excited, including myself,” Gettys said. “Browns fans are true-blooded fans. They come out and fill up the stadium and the parking lots here.”
Elsewhere in the neighborhood that surrounds the training facility, many Berea homeowners allowed fans to park in their driveway for $10 or $15.
Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem said generally residents are not permitted to charge for parking. However, the city uses its discretion in enforcing the regulations against residents during training camp.
“If a health or safety issue were to arise, we would respond accordingly,” Mayor Kleem said.