Campbell Planning to Hit Tailgaters in Pocketbook

The assault against inexpensive Muni Lot tailgating continues this weekend as reports indicate Mayor Jane Campbell wants to raise parking fees at public lots to $20 or $30 for Browns games. A vote on a proposal to raise fees could appear in City Council as early as Monday.

The news, reported by Channel 5 in Cleveland, follows earlier statements by the mayor's Finance Director Robert Baker that the city will ask Council to raise the cost of parking for Broans fans to $15 or $20.

Council President Frank Jackson told The Plain Dealer earlier this week that a $5 increase in parking fees for Browns fans would net only $175,000, an amount Jackson dismissed as a "drop in the bucket".

The mayor, desperate to avoid an income tax increase, could potentially face a budget deficit of up to $48 million in 2003. This deficit is partially caused by cutbacks in state aid to the city.

The potential price increase is the second blow in the last several weeks against tailgaters, who are no longer permitted to have open containers or bottles in city-operated parking lots, such as the popular and huge Municipal Lots near the stadium. Fan tailgates are now heavily patrolled, as fans are asked to pour beer or other drinks into colored plastic cups. Use of clear plastic cups, cans, or bottles can result in a fine.

The actions taken against Muni Lot tailgaters follow the team's imposition of restrictions on beer consumption, including earlier cutoffs for beer sales and limits of two beers per purchase. Popular plastic beer bottles were also eliminated following an incident last December where fans tossed the bottles onto the field after a bizarre call by officials in the game.

The trend of policies set by the city and team are now very clear. According to published reports, the city intends to eliminate consumption of alcohol in public lots in the coming years.

There is now some discussion among Browns fans regarding how to combat the slow and steady erosion of priviledges enjoyed, and sometimes abused, by fans over past decades. Some fans have discussed political means to fight the efforts by the city, although no organized effort appears to be underway.

The Browns, in the meantime, sent an email to their large mailing list encouraging them to attend the "official" tailgate for ticketholders, where beer and food can be purchased at usual stadium prices. Below is the text:

"To avoid lines, come to the game early and stop by the Budweiser Barking Lot on the north patio to tailgate! Fans entering the Stadium through the Budweiser Barking Lot turnstiles will receive a free Cleveland Browns Rally Towel! Help us cheer the Browns on to a VICTORY! Hang out with the folks from WTAM 1100 and listen to Disco Inferno - a fabulous costume'll love their music! The Budweiser Barking Lot is the official tailgating headquarters for ticketed Browns fans."

- AB

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