It all seems par for the course for Cleveland.
Baker Mayfield bounced back from a rough first week to lead the Cleveland Browns over the Joe Burrow-led Cincinnati Bengals, 35-30, on Thursday night. And approximately 6,000 fans were fortunate enough to watch in person when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced earlier this month that 6,000 could attend despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Browns (1-1) prepared fans with a detailed video on their website that delved into social distancing and safety protocols for FirstEnergy Stadium. Everyone attending had to sign a “health promise” and had specific entry times and locations. There were even single-serve condiments to help prevent the spread of the disease.
What the Browns didn’t take into account is a fight breaking out. And that’s exactly what happened in the home opener.
Fans are seated in “pods” and tickets are sold in packs so that households can sit together but groups from different households aren’t intermingling. Which makes it all the more odd a fight broke out that had to be taken care of by more than six stadium officials.
During a pandemic, no less.
Comedian Ricky Smith was one of the ones in attendance for the Browns game. He said everything felt “pretty normal” except for the timeouts and dead time that are usually eaten away by fan interaction and experiences. He shared video of stadium personnel dealing with mask compliance issues throughout the stadium.
Browns fans were pumped their team got the win in prime time. They only have a few chances to see the Browns in person, at least for the time being. DeWine listed four games with the special conditions for fans. That includes the Browns-Bengals rematch in Cincinnati on Oct. 25.
Hopefully a fight didn’t ruin it.
Cleveland is one of a handful of stadiums that are allowing fans to attend games. The Kansas City Chiefs also had fans for their season opener last week. There were 15,895 in attendance at the 76,000-seat stadium and one person tested positive for COVID-19 the day after the game. Using policies set in place for that reason, the Chiefs organization identified and contacted the 10 people who had come in close contact with the person who tested positive.