Not all season ticket holders are allowed to attend.
CLEVELAND — For those who wanted to go to Thursday’s Browns home opener, you likely found out that they are the hottest ticket in town.
With limited inventory, ticket brokers are getting premium prices. But many fans are all too happy to pay for them, even though the team keeps losing and they had a less than stellar performance during their season opener last Sunday in Baltimore.
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Still, for those who live and breathe the team, “this” will be that next year they’ve been waiting for.
Ryan Kleinfelter, who has a tattoo of all three Cleveland sports teams, explains it this way, “You saw it right there on my back. It’s a die hard loyal.”
In fact, he flew from South Carolina for the opener. One year, he flew in from the Cayman Islands. But even as a season ticket holder for 17 years, he was lucky he got in.
This year because of COVID-19, only about 6,000 tickets were released in a stadium that holds about 68,000.
In a letter that season ticket holders received from the Browns, they learned they could only select tickets on a game-by-game basis, beginning with the longest tenured. That meant many got shut out.
To go, they’d have to buy single tickets at more than double the price.
Ryan told us, “I paid $525 for three of them. That was the face value of them. I saw tickets in the same section we’re sitting going for upwards of like $700.”
The only option offered for season ticket holders who didn’t like this process, was to get a refund or credit to next year’s season, although they’d get first dibs for the next game this season.
For super fan Gus Angelone, who has also held season tickets for 17 years and was one of those fans selected, even if he had to pay those high prices he was going.
He has two sons and told us, “I take the boys to every game. I think they’ve been to every game since they’ve been born. It’s just something that we do here in Cleveland.”
Because of safety reasons though, he can’t sit in his old front row seats. Instead, he’s sitting in the Dawg Pound.
“No one is allowed to sit in the first eight rows. They keep people away from the players,” he explained.
Based on the limited number of tickets available in the secondary market, it seems most season ticket holders have kept theirs instead of selling. And that’s hurt ticket brokers, even with the higher prices.
Scott Merk of Merk’s Ticket Agency in Brookpark says, “We usually sell 150 to 200 tickets on average, minimum for the opener. Right now, we’ve probably sold six to eight tickets so far. It’s like, it’s insane.”
But even with fewer fans, those attending hope it won’t feel like it.
“I’m telling everybody, bring your A game. Come loud. Come proud and we’ll see what happens tonight,” Gus said.