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Issue Date: October 2010 Issue

Gate Show

Steve Gleydura

This time, it's not about the money. Seriously. Just give the fans their Muni Lot back.

Twenty bucks? Fine. Double the price to $30. They'd likely pay that, too. But shave three hours off the tailgating for Browns games? Now you've got an angry brown-and-orange problem.

When the city announced a $5 price increase to park in the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot on South Marginal Road, tailgaters were outraged. Within weeks of the August announcement, more than 4,300 people had signed an online petition to have the city reconsider.

Just glance through the comments from those who have signed, and you'll understand this is about more than three extra hours of booze and brats (though, clearly, we like that, too). "As an RV owner it is nice to be able to come down early and get our same spot each week," writes Steve Hemrich, a season ticket holder for three years. "It gives us time to set up, eat breakfast and enjoy conversations with other fans. Opening later would cause long lines, traffic jams and could potentially be dangerous trying to park in [the] lot later with an RV. Also [it] allows for less time to tailgate and enjoy our game day experience."

Call me a sucker for tradition, but I get it. The football gods certainly know this team hasn't been much to watch since returning in 1999. So don't go messing with the pigskin Halloween show that surrounds it.

The city explained that it was trying to keep in line with other NFL cities for parking lot opening times. But clearly, we're not like any other NFL city. Art Modell stole our team, but we fought to keep the colors and the name. No one else can say that. And our tailgaters aren't like other cities' either. Fans travel from throughout Ohio and the rest of the country for the experience. We've got the BoneLady, Big Dawg and a motorized couch. Three hours makes a difference to them. So it should to the city, too.

As if it weren't obvious from this month's cover, we have a soft spot for tailgating. And you'll find plenty of examples throughout our Best of Cleveland package — everything from custom cornhole boards to a great burger for your crowd. So as John Pangrac said in his petition comment: "Save the Muni Tailgate, [it's the] best in Cleveland."

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