The Browns and “Manzielmania” will invade Akron this summer.With Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium undergoing the first phase of a $120 million renovation, the Browns have selected the University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium as the site for their annual Family Day practice.
So rookie Johnny Manziel and veteran Brian Hoyer will go toe-to-toe in their battle for the starting quarterback job during an intrasquad scrimmage scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m.-2:10 p.m. Aug. 2 on UA’s campus. Fan-engagement opportunities are also in the works for before, during and after the practice.
Browns spokesman Rob McBurnett presented information about the organization’s Family Day plans to the Beacon Journal on Thursday.
For the Akron area, it will make a busy weekend even busier.
The Bridgestone Invitational will be underway at Firestone Country Club, the Pro Football Hall of Fame parade and enshrinement will be the same day, the Twins Day Festival will occur in Twinsburg and the area will be gearing up for the International Gay Games, which begin later in the week. The All-American Soap Box Derby runs the previous weekend.
The Browns’ practice will be free and open to the public, but fans planning to attend will be required to register online beforehand. Bracing for record crowds because of Manziel’s popularity, the Browns are also implementing online registration for the rest of their training camp practices at their headquarters in Berea. Logistics of the registration process are being finalized. Training camp will begin in late July.
InfoCision Stadium, which cost $61.6 million to build and opened in 2009, has a capacity of 30,000. A record 27,881 fans attended the first game played in the stadium on Sept. 12, 2009, when UA defeated Morgan State 41-0.
The Browns drew 30,751 fans to the Rubber Bowl for a preseason game Sept. 8, 1973, against the New York Giants. The Browns lost 21-10, and it was the last of 19 exhibition games they played in Akron.
“We hope [the Browns’ scrimmage] will be a sellout,” UA athletic director Tom Wistrcill said.
He said UA and the Browns have yet to sign a contract for the rental fee, concessions and parking but have agreed in principal to many of the terms.
“There will be revenue opportunities, but we’ll also expose our campus to all these people,” he said. “I’ll bet many of them have never been to a Zips’ game.”
Final details are being worked out.
Wistrcill said he hoped the Browns’ scrimmage would be the first of many other events with communitywide appeal coming to the UA stadium.
In each of the past two years, the Browns held their family-themed practice in the evening and labeled it Family Night. The team switched to a daytime event this year, however, because it didn’t want the practice to conflict with the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 7 that night at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
McBurnett said the Browns contacted the NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame about holding a scrimmage the same day as the enshrinement ceremony and received their blessings.
Family Day will be held outside Cleveland for the first time. The Browns explored the possibility of using other venues before choosing UA, McBurnett said.
The first phase of renovations at FirstEnergy Stadium is expected to be complete by Aug. 23, when the Browns will play in their preseason home opener against the St. Louis Rams. During a media tour of the stadium Monday, Browns President Alec Scheiner said the construction is on schedule and on budget.
By Nate Ulrich - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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