Cleveland opens muni lot for Browns tailgaters at noon for Thursday night game

CLEVELAND - Browns fans got a delayed start to tailgating ahead of Thursday's game as the city opened its municipal lot five hours later than normal.

"Finding out yesterday that we can't come in until noon wasn't cool, if you asked me," said Mike Bonnell of Canton.

The city said it decided to open part of the municipal lot at noon for tailgaters instead of 7 a.m. to better accommodate its weekday customers. The west lot opened at 5:30 pm.

"Being a Thursday, we can't put our customers out so they can tailgate," said Michael Cox, director of public works for the city of Cleveland. "So they have to wait until the west lot empties out before they can go in there and set up their tailgating functions."

"We definitely have the best party in the muni lot, there's no doubt about it," said Maria Ursetti. Ursetti and her friends spent the night on a converted school bus. It was one of the first vehicles in the muni lot when it opened up for tailgaters.

The bus, which is painted orange and brown, is outfitted with grills, kegs, flat screen TVs and professional sound equipment.

"It's just a time to be with your friends, listen to some music, celebrate the Browns," Ursetti said.

Being with friends is why Drew Champa is motivated to tailgate. He came directly to the muni lot from his overnight job with a tricked-out trailer in tow, complete with a heated bathroom.

"It's the best bathroom in this whole lot," said Champa, a Wickliffe resident.

It's not the fancy amenities that get Dan Sanders pumped, it's what's inside his cooler.

"We got some adult limeade, looks good, we'll drink that," said Sanders, who drove with his wife from Altoona, Pennsylvania early Thursday morning to start tailgating at about 7 a.m. with confidence in his beloved team.

 "Two and two, looking good. We got a little hope there," said Sanders. "You're not packing it in for the year."

His fellow fans are far from packing it in either.

"Love tailgating, love the Browns!" yelled Pat Barnes of Euclid.

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