Exiting Berea Would Be a Wise Decision:
It recently came out that Cleveland Browns’ fans would be required to “register” for training camp practices this July and August. This is a free, online process – however it guarantees entrance when others will be denied. The reason for this, is due to the higher demand to see the players (particularly one rookie quarterback) up close and in person. Not being able to accommodate fans is unacceptable in today’s NFL – and the Browns’ front office knows this. Searching for different venues is the likely next step in this process, and in my opinion, the smart thing to do.
Greater Attendance – This goes beyond the obvious, as larger fields would be able to support more individuals to watch the orange and brown. Should the Browns look for areas with seating (i.e. metal bleachers), they could implement a solid selling point. For every die-hard fan that attends training camp, there are multiple supporters who would not mind “taking a load off” during sessions that span over two hours. It appears relatively simple and straight-forward, but it could be a way to get more customers.
Increased Exposure – Being accepted into the national spotlight has been something foreign to this franchise over the past twenty-five years. However, in the span of a few weeks – the opposite has been the norm. Getting more into free events would only exacerbate this, especially when large media outlets would want to be a part of the action. In addition to the headlines for the on-the-field product, you can bet that several vendors will supply hats, jerseys, and shirts for people to purchase.
For those who live further away from Berea, (now) having training camp closer could mean family trips to watch the Browns. Again, die-hards will go no matter the locale – within reason. The front office needs to determine where are the best venues that will produce spikes in attendance by the casual football fan. Will getting this faction turn the next generation to the good side (instead of waving yellow toilet paper)? The team can only hope; of course, winning in the fall can also work wonders for youngsters new to the game.
Changing the Culture – A repeating theme of the 2014 squad has been to shed itself of its previous losing mentality. Since last season, there has been roster turnover, coaching and general manager changes, and discussion of new uniforms (to be implemented 2015). Perhaps moving the team during summer camp can further along this process, as the Browns have seen little success in the approximate twenty years at the campus of Baldwin Wallace. Sometimes a positive psyche can provide an advantage that translates to success during games. I understand the culture change may not occur overnight, and not all shifts will be good ideas. However, this owner has proven that he is willing to think outside the box and put his stamp on the Cleveland Browns.
Conclusion: I am excited to hear the team could move summer practices to other areas in Ohio (and possibly multiple). The fan base could be broadened, as well as the team getting more notoriety than in previous years. I have faith the team can get it right; hopefully that time is just around the corner.