It felt strange typing it out, and even stranger reading it over for a second time, but believe it or not, the point is valid – it’s probably time to start taking Cleveland seriously as a sports travel destination. This is especially so after the Cleveland Browns recently traded for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Hear me out on this one. As most international travellers are trying to visit Los Angeles and New York during their USA trip, it’s not too radical an idea to suggest a stopover in Ohio.
I’m assuming you need more convincing, and therefore, here are a few reasons why Cleveland is an underrated sports travel destination:
It’s a cheaper visit than other cities
Being a “small market” city, ticket prices to sports aren’t going to be a huge issue. On any given Sunday, tickets may cost as little as a couple of beers, while seats at a Cavaliers (NBA) or Indians (MLB) game may run as low as in the single figures. It’s a sporting adventure that won’t break your wallet.
All of the stadiums are located centrally
Cleveland is much more convenient for the visiting sports fan: all of the city’s major sporting venues are located centrally to downtown and are just a short walk, bus or Uber from anywhere you might be staying in the city.
The Browns’ home, FirstEnergy Stadium, has its own RTA (metro) station but is easily walkable from downtown, while Quicken Loans Arena (home of the Cavs) and Progressive Field (home of the Indians) are both less than a kilometer walk away and are located next to one another.
The Browns might be the most exciting team in the AFC North
It seems like only yesterday that the city of Cleveland was celebrating its “perfect season”. For the uninitiated, in 2017 the Browns went 0-16, and fans celebrated in the most Ohio way imaginable: by hosting a parade.
Fast-forward two years and suddenly the Browns are just about the hottest ticket in the AFC North. Considering Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have both left the Pittsburgh Steelers, considering the Bengals remain in limbo, and considering the Ravens are, well, from Baltimore, maybe it’s time to think about visiting Cleveland to get your sporting fix.
With Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb in the backfield, and OBJ and Jarvis Landry out wide, the Browns are going to be an insanely watchable and explosive team. Fans have been waiting for the Browns to make a playoff push for more than a decade, and the bandwagon will be heaving once the team has a few early wins on the board.
There’s plenty more to see in and around CLE
Between the downtown precinct and First Energy Stadium are dozens of excellent bars, restaurants and fast food options that make for a fun way to eat and drink either before or after the game.
In addition to the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians, Cleveland is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as quirky neighborhoods with hipster-friendly cafes and breweries, like Ohio City.
And you don’t just have to stay in Cleveland to experience the best sport Ohio has to offer. Just a short drive away is the state capitol of Columbus – home of the NHL’s Blue Jackets and of course the Ohio State University. No trip to Cleveland can be made without detouring to “the Horseshoe” to watch a game with 105,000 of your closest friends.
And if you don’t want to overload on sport and want to get out and about, you don’t have to wander far to take in some Ohio’s natural beauty, either. The Cuyahoga National Park is just a 25-minute drive from downtown, while the stunning Hocking Hills State Park is just three hours from Cleveland or less than an hour from Columbus.
So before the rest of America (and in fact, the world) wakes up to Cleveland, perhaps consider a quick jaunt through Ohio to get the white line fever pumping. OBJ and the Browns have put Cleveland on the map, so there’s no better time to jump on the bandwagon.
What do you think?
Are we just getting a bit too carried away again?
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Note: The header image features a still from this video.