By now you’ve probably heard Jon Bon Jovi is coming to town. On May 28, the Cleveland Browns announced Bon Jovi “will help launch the 2013 football season with a special ‘Fan Kickoff Concert’ July 14 at FirstEnergy Stadium.”
Cheesy? Maybe. Unless you’re a die-hard Bon Jovi fan. And there are plenty of those.
Smart move by the Browns? Definitely. It’s time to start using FirstEnergy Stadium - née Cleveland Browns Stadium - as much as possible.
Bon Jovi and last year’s Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw concert is just the beginning. Sure, hosting rockers who can fill a stadium at your stadium is a no-brainer, but there just aren’t that many touring nowadays who qualify.
The Browns must expand their horizons.
The first step is to install artificial grass. This idea breeds as much polarization as the idea of a logo on the team’s helmet. According to stadiumsofprofootball.com, 18 NFL stadiums have grass and 12 have the fake stuff. In a city like Cleveland where tradition is valued, why go with plastic grass?
Cleveland Browns Stadium was so aptly named the “Factory of Sadness” by comedian Mike Polk. In its first 10 or so years, the stadium basically held two preseason and eight regular season Browns games a year with an occasional high school or college game. In all, there haven’t been many victories by the home team and zero NFL playoff games.
Field Turf is not like the old Astroturf that became popular in the late 70s and 80s. That stuff was like playing on green-colored concrete. These new synthetic surfaces are much more forgiving on players’ joints, knees and elbows.
Grass, especially in a climate like Cleveland, Ohio, cannot sustain much traffic if the Browns added more high school and college games on top of the pro contests. Look at the slop that is in place down in Pittsburgh, where Heinz Field hosts high school, college and pro games throughout the football season.
With fake grass, the surface would be able to take on numerous games a week and we’re not limited to football.
Lacrosse, rugby and soccer are among the sports everyone tells us are “the fastest growing sports in America.” No doubt the popularity of these sports is on the rise in high school and college sports. Why not host these games at the stadium?
Rent it out, too. What better idea for a birthday party of someone who is on the verge of a mid-life crisis, than to have his friends play a flag football game where the Browns play their tackle football games?
Any extra revenue will help, but it also will give some life to the stadium that typically just sits vacant most of the year and is a constant reminder to passerby’s of the sad and frustrating Sunday afternoons they spend there in the fall.
Let’s face it, within the next decade, the Browns will want to add upgrades citing “an aging structure,” “upkeep” and “fan experience.” If fans have the ability experience the stadium more than 10 times a year and in more ways than just watching losing pro football, pouring more money into the stadium might be a little easier to accept.