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Browns fans paying more to tailgate


-- Football fans will have to pay more to tailgate before Browns games.

City Council voted Monday to raise the parking fee from $10 to $15 at three city-owned lots near Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The increase comes two months after the city cracked down on rowdy tailgate parties.

It will take effect for the Browns night game on Oct. 6 against the Baltimore Ravens.

The fee could increase to $20 by the end of the year.

City Finance Director Robert Baker told council members that the city may want to boost the charge again to help balance the 2003 budget and to make its parking areas competitive.

''The fact is that private operators are currently charging $20,'' Baker said.

State Auditor Jim Petro noted in his May performance audit that city parking fees were too low.

The new fees will not affect the daily and monthly parking fees.

Council also authorized the $15 parking charge for other special events at the Northcoast Municipal Lot and the Willard Park and Convention Center garages.

Councilman Mike Polensek fretted about the fee increase following so quickly the city's ticketing or arrest of football fans who become drunk and disorderly at tailgate parties.

''It's become almost misery to come downtown,'' Polensek said. ''They give out tickets like jackrabbits in heat down here. If we keep jacking up the rates, nobody is going to want to come downtown.''