Despite my hectic travel schedule at the moment, I’ll never be too busy for family time, especially when that family time is “Pumpkin Day.” Every year my mom’s side gets together to carve pumpkins and eat (mostly to eat). It’s our favorite holiday and this year we had a few first timers- my cousin’s husband Mark and their daughter Myla. After carving pumpkins and the grand tradition of electing the winner- my uncle shines a flashlight in them and whoever gets the most “ooos and ahhhs” wins, my Auntie Re drove me to the Cleveland airport and I was on my way to St. Louis to kick off a five-city trip. Kinda appropriate to leave from Cleveland since the Browns were playing the Rams the following day. I didn’t plan to be there when my team was in town, but I wasn’t mad. Call me crazy, but I was looking forward to seeing the Browns play and hopefully getting a win.

Noon games are killer. I know this from years of college football and earlier this year when I visited Chicago. The Rams were nice enough to give me a pre-game field pass and I was going to take advantage of the full hour or so I would have. I was staying in an apartment I found on Airbnb near Forrest Park and rode the MetroLink to the Convention Center stop near the dome. Cities that have a train are my favorite. It’s an underrated city quality and makes life a thousand times easier. The walk from the station to the stadium is maybe five minutes and I stopped in the hotel across the street to print out my ticket. I was surprised by how many Browns fans were out and about. I didn’t know Cleveland fans traveled so well, but I’m not all that shocked- we’re masochists.

I had gotten to the stadium earlier than I expected and with an hour to kill I walked through the tailgate lots which were semi-full of fans from both sides, but it was real tame. The fan fest across the street was starting to pick up and I milled around listening to the cover band that was playing. I don’t know what the band was called, but the lead singer had a heck of a voice. While I was hanging out I observed all the names on the back of Browns fans’ jerseys. Why do Browns fans buy quarterback jerseys? Seems like a bad investment. One time I considered buying Colt McCoy’s because I liked him at Texas, but I decided to hold off and am glad I did. The only QB jersey I’ll consider from now on is Bernie Kosar. It’s the only way to not be disappointed in dropping $60 or whatever they retail for these days. I did do some Rams fan people watching as well and was happy to see all the 55 jerseys for James Laurinaitis. There were also a couple of people wearing cute Rams headgear that I kinda wanted. If I had money to waste, it would be on silly things like that or themed socks. In another life, I’ll be more open to wearing another team’s sportswear.

 

At ten I entered the stadium to meet with my Rams team contact, Zach, and head on down to the field. I felt a little guilty admitting that I was from Cleveland (and a Browns fan) when he asked where I was from, but I was wearing Rams colors for the game at least! I hung out on the Browns sideline and watched Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel (plus the rest of the team) warm up. Manziel went over and talked to a Rams fan that was in a wheelchair for a little bit. Someone made a snide comment that he needed all the good publicity he could get. Uh, give the guy a break. Look I don’t like him. When the Browns drafted him I thought it was a mistake and was annoyed when he was a total punk last season, but let’s give the guy a chance to turn it around. I hope he gets his life back on track and if he works out for the Browns, I’d love to be wrong.

Before going back to the stands I walked over to the Rams side and watched them run through a few plays and was even treated to a Laurinaitis walk by. I dug his gold shoes. Looking around Edward Jones Dome, I wouldn’t blame the team for bolting. The stadium is dated and fairly bland on both the inside and outside. Like I’m trying to think of something to compliment about it because I want to like it, but it was that underwhelming. We were shooed off the field close to kickoff and herded back up to the main concourse. The concourses were wide, well lit and the concession prices were low, so there you go- the positives to this stadium. Browns fans were very vocal walking through them and I have to say, there is nothing cockier than a Browns fans’ pre-game strut. Seriously you’d think the team was fresh off 10 Super Bowl wins and undefeated. Loud and proud of our Brownies… no matter what! They weren’t demeaning to the Rams fans, in fact, one group was going around hugging and high-fiving both fan bases. I think people were feeling like the Browns had a good shot at a win this week.

I stood behind the lower level seats and talked to some Cowboy fans while I waited for the teams to come out. The Rams dimmed the lights for player introductions and shot off some excellent blue colored flames. A guy next to me told me that they used to use the sparkly fireworks but a couple weeks ago one misfired and burned part of the turf. There was even a delay to the start of the game as they cleaned it up. A happy accident I suppose, because lots of teams do the same fireworks, but no one else does blue flames. At kickoff, the stands were about half full and it was not a late arriving crowd… this was it. The team is lucky they play in a dome so the crowd seems louder than it really is. An usher mentioned to me that with the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future, many fans were sorta boycotting the team. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think it would hurt more than help. If you don’t have fan support at home, why wouldn’t you want to move to a new city? Although LA isn’t exactly known for attending sporting events. Add St. Louis to the list of NFL franchises with a tough decision at the end of this season. Personally, I think they should stay in St. Louis, but get a new stadium or consider some major dome upgrades.
I watched the game from this standing room area for the first quarter before heading up to my seat in the 400 level. The atmosphere wasn’t great in the lower level and it was birds chirping up here. My section had more empty seats than people, though I will hand it to the fans directly around me, they were into the game. Something that bugged me during this game was the video board production. It was incredibly choppy. No fades, especially during highlights from other games. I’m not sure if this is the norm or if something wasn’t working. I hate to be a snob, but this is a professional sports team. The in-game announcer was good though and as the game progressed the fans got more into it and I didn’t pay as much attention to the video board. Though I didn’t love all the Rams touchdowns, I loved the streamer throwing from upper deck fans following in celebration. Gotta rethink those colors guys!During the fourth quarter my phone was dying and though there wasn’t a charging station in the upper concourse, I found an outlet near a section entrance. It was out of the way for people walking by and I was able to watch the end of the game and keep an eye on my phone. Well, the Browns, Brownsed so hard. Turnovers and penalties shot them in the foot over and over again. It’s frustrating to see sloppy play from your team. I will give Todd Gurley a ton of credit, though, dude can run. Rams fans liked him too and were chanting his name by the end of the game. As I exited the stadium the song “All I Do Is Win” was blasting. Let’s slow your roll player on that until you have a winning record. Sorry, I was a little salty, they do have a shot in their conference. The postgame strut of a Browns fan is sad and quiet, more of a droopy shuffle. The pre-game strut will be there next week, there’s always next week!

 

This game was quicker than I had anticipated, only three hours and I had time to explore the city of St. Louis a bit more. I had read that this city had a few well-known cathedrals and decided I would visit them and Forrest Park to see the site of the 1904 World Fair. The first church was by the Arch, allowing me to hit two birds with one stone. I’ll never go back up the Arch, that was traumatizing, but I do like looking at it with my feet on the ground. My original plan was to get back on the MetroLink to the St. Louis University stop, but the day was beautiful and I was near enough to Busch Stadium that I couldn’t ignore my urge to walk by. I continued my walk down Market St. and was blown away by the architectural details of the buildings. Dubbing my hike a “church crawl,” I stopped at churches along the way and was disappointed to find some were closed. It was Sunday! The campus of St. Louis University is lovely, though I’ll always think it’s odd when a college doesn’t have a football stadium/team. By now it should be painfully obvious I attended The Ohio State University for football tickets. Not the greatest of game plans, but not the worst either! Actually, scratch that, it was totally awesome.

I stopped for dinner at Lucha, a Mexican restaurant across from the Fox Theater. It wasn’t Pappy’s or BBQ in any way, but it was open and I was starving. Refueled, I set back out and walked another mile to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. If there was ever a church that would incite you to take the Lord’s name in vain upon entering, it would be this one. The mosaic along the entire ceiling is out. of. this. world. How does anyone concentrate on the mass? I can’t believe this place is in the United States and might say it’s the grandest church I’ve ever been in, Italy included. I would’ve stayed longer but they were closing for the night and I was “kicked out.” By now the sun was setting and I wasn’t able to make it to the park. Oh well, that will be top of my list when I come to a Blues game!

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Zach for his time and assistance during my visit! 

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