On Monday, Browns president Alec Scheiner outlined the team’s efforts to improve fans’ entrance to the stadium, cell-phone service, merchandise stores within the stadium, guest experience and the gameday experience.
“We have done all we can to listen to our fans,” Scheiner said. “We’ll take surveys. We’re on social media. I’ve actually talked to dozens of fans myself for the only purpose of hearing their feedback and understanding what our good experiences are and what are the ones we can improve on.
“I think it’s critical because if you don’t listen and you’re just kind of taking your own experiences, and we haven’t experienced this stadium and this community, it’s important for us to hear and then, put it into motion.”
Since the end of the 2012 season, the Browns have added 44 new screening lanes and 20 new turnstiles to the existing infrastructure designed at decreasing the time necessary to clear security and get to their seats before game time.
The Browns have added eight chutes and a new express lane at the Northeast gate, 10 chutes and four turnstiles at the Southwest gate, six chutes and new express lanes at the Northwest gate, eight chutes and four turnstiles at the Southeast gate, and 12 chutes and 12 turnstiles on the North plaza.
By making these additions at FirstEnergy Stadium, an additional 4,000 fans will gain entry to the stadium per 15 minutes, as compared to the 2012 season.
To view or download renderings of the enhanced FirstEnergy Stadium fan ingress accommodations, click here.
“We’ve looked around every aspect of our stadium,” Scheiner said. “We’ve looked in every nook and cranny, and we’ve figured out a few areas where we could add screen lines and gates. We think that about 4,000 more fans can get into our stadium every 15 minutes, which is really the crucial time period leading up to the kickoff. Then, if we improve the game experience and get fans to the game earlier, we think that almost all of this problem will be gone. We’ll keep looking at it, and we’ll see where it works and where it doesn’t work. We’ll have express lanes in certain areas for people that don’t bring in bags.”
The Browns have also added a new cell tower from Verizon and upgraded AT&T’s existing cell tower in an effort to allow fans to better use cell phones and iPads while enjoying the game at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Last year, Verizon customers really had trouble getting cell service,” Scheiner said. “We think this will make a big difference with people getting on their phone, getting text messages, getting phone calls, surfing the internet. We’ll keep looking at this, and if we need more technology in the stadium in the near future, we’ll keep investing in more technology.”
This offseason, the Browns have contracted Contemporary Services Corporation to run their game day security.
“This goes to how you feel when you come into the game, how the fans feel, whether it’s friendly, whether it’s safe,” Scheiner said. “We hired a company that works the majority of NFL stadiums. We think it’s the best company in the world at doing this, CSC. They’re in the process of training and retraining all of the people at the stadium, and we think it will make a big difference day one, but we think it will make an even bigger difference as we go down the road.
“We want to harness the energy of our fans. You think of different stadiums around the league where the fans are really passionate, but it’s a safe environment. That’s what we would like to replicate, but I think we’ve got a good atmosphere for football games.”
For the Browns, part of creating that good atmosphere is focused on energizing the crowd through the use of music and videos on the scoreboard. Prior to the games, a DJ will be on the field as well as another DJ will be up in the operations booth to control the music during games, and a drumline that will lead fans into the stadium.
“We know we have the best fans,” Scheiner said. “We want to have the best home-field advantage. We’re talking about things like pre-game introductions, rituals, video and audio, what it feels like when you’re actually participating in the game. We’ll have different rituals that we’ll roll out during the season that most have come directly from our fans. We’ll have a drumline. That brings a lot of energy pre-game and in the parking lots and then, during the game.
“It all feeds on itself. The better home-field advantage you have, the better your team feels about things at your stadium, and sometimes, the better you play. If you think of some of these home-field advantages in the NFL, they’re incredible. Seattle’s an incredible home-field advantage, and Minnesota has been at times. New Orleans has been at times. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
Scheiner also promised changes to the way the Browns’ players are introduced, which coupled with the other changes will be something he called “very important for your players and your team.”
“They know you’re committed,” Scheiner said. “Then, they get revved up and the fans get revved up, and it kind of feeds on itself. We think all of these things together will enhance the fan experience. We know we have a lot of work to do, and this is really just the beginning for us. The more feedback we get from our fans, the better.”