Update: Comment from the City of Cleveland's Kathleen Dorsey — "This was a city decision - we are merely bringing the opening of Muni Lot in line with other lots in the area. Patrons arriving prior to the opening of the lot will be allowed to stage their vehicles at the eastern section of Muni Lot near the tennis courts thus addressing traffic issues."
Those rumors you might have heard about the Muni Lot not opening until 7 a.m. on days of Browns home games this year? They're true.
The City of Cleveland Division of Parking Facilities just confirmed the later opening for the upcoming season.
I'm waiting on an explanation and comment from the parking director. I'll update when I hear back from him.
As for what drove the decision, what it means for traffic, and why in the world anyone would find it necessary to delay the opening of the grandest and most-populated tailgate parking lot in the city? Those are all good questions.
Scene classifieds director Joe Strailey happens to be a season ticket holder and a Muni Lot loyalist. Here's what he had to say about the change: "Traffic is already backed up getting into Muni Lot early on a Sunday morning. With limited entrance points, I fear I'm going to have to leave my house earlier than before, to then sit in traffic for an hour or longer. I may avoid tailgating Week 1 to see how it works. Such a shame."
Did the Browns have something to do with this? Mike Holmgren already laid down the law on the topic of fan behavior earlier this year, and if the organization is worried about cleaning up the fans' acts, then it wouldn't be a far jump to assume they might have placed a call to the city about trying to curtail the early, early morning activities at the Muni Lot.
Of course, that's foolish, both the belief that delaying the opening until 7 a.m. will do anything to stop fans from imbibing in the early morning hours and the belief that the Muni Lot is somehow part of a nonexistent problem. The Muni Lot is actually representative of the best that Browns fans can be and any notion to punish the majority for the sins of a small minority is misguided.
And we haven't even talked about the snarling traffic problems a later opening is bound to create.
Again, when I hear some answers, they'll be posted here.
Sad day, Browns fans. Sad day.