"Cincinnati fans have become, over the past few years, a very loyal bunch -- almost to the extreme. If you're a Bengals fan, that's great; if you support the other team, things can get a bit out of hand." Most appreciate the fact that Bengals fans are generally "united in their overall zaniness" nowadays, in comparison to the 1990s, when the "atmosphere was often, 'Oh, how are we going to blow this game.'" And though some say "you can [now] feel the buzz as soon as you exit the highway," many find the crowd "very rude and foul-mouthed." "There are a lot of individuals who don't have any regard for little kids, cursing the opposing team and any fans of that team who happen to be sitting in the area." "Fans seem to feel they are owed something". In response, the team has begun operating a "JERK hotline, a phone number you can call and alert security about a problem in the stands. If they find the people too rude, they will kick them out."
7 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (20 oz.)
Beer (16 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"You must check out the hometown favorites -- Gold Star Chili and Montgomery Inn BBQ, of course." That isn't all, say those who feel "no football stadium has such a made-for-game day experience like a Cincinnati chili cheese hot dog." As "it seems like there is a food or beverage stand every few feet," "local fare is easy to find," such as Donatos' "great" pizza." Of course, that isn't the only placed to grab a drink, as bars servind Bloody Marys and a host of "nice specialty beer vendors" can attest.
7 out of 10
"The stadium is downtown, so fans can arrive from N/S/E/W, which prevents major congestion." Inexpensive parking close to the stadium isn't easy to find, but "there is plenty downtown within 8-10 blocks." Additionally, "parking across the Ohio River in Kentucky and walking across the suspension bridge makes the commute easy." A water taxi and a $1.00 shuttle bus ride also offers "easy" access. While public transportation is relatively limited, Bengals Express buses offer rides in from the Cincinnati suburbs "that couldn't be any easier." "Leaving the game is always a bear," but with "several routes in and out of the city," it's never too bad."
5 out of 10
"Until recently, tailgating was the only reason to go to the stadium." With parking near the stadium "pricey and limited to season-pass holders," the tailgating scene "covers about a square mile" in "many far-flung locations." Dispersed from "absolutely phenomenal" Longworth Hall -- an old railroad building about twice the length of the stadium -- to a "huge parking lot next to a gravel pit," Bengals tailgating is "a mix between Halloween, Christmas and New Year's Eve." "People have ambulances painted orange and black," grills are cooking "classic Midwestern fare (brats, burgers, chili, etc.)" and "lots of alcohol" is around. Games of parking lot football abound, as do games of cornhole, "a bean bag toss game similar to horseshoes named as such because the bean bags are filled with corn." "The festive atmosphere" stretching "a mile in both directions along the river" has gained a following so "intense" that Bengals wide receiver "Chad Johnson himself has even walked about the tailgates for the experience."
8 out of 10
Chad Johnson :: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Chad Johnson (WR), Carson Palmer (QB), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (WR), Rudi Johnson (RB)
2 out of 10
"There aren't a lot of bells and whistles inside," but Paul Brown Stadium is "beautiful, fan-friendly and convenient." "The view of the field from any seat is amazing." "Nice, wide-open stairs are all around," and it's "very easy to get to and from the restroom without missing much action." "A fan zone outside the stadium" is "like a country fair, with games for kids and adults." And "a lone escalator on the north side of the stadium is very odd but has a great view," while "the jungle façade around the perimeter of the field adds a nice touch". "The design is artistic, but still enjoyable to the average Joe". For all of its pluses, PBS also has "a lot of plain cement color," leaving some with the impression that "the place feels kind of cold." At the facility, though, it's clear you're in for a Midwestern winter, courtesy of the stadium's "open sides, which allow for a lot of wind to come through." But those are minor quibbles for a place most Bengals fans list as "a nice stadium, considering my taxes paid for it."
8 out of 10
"The surrounding land is a no-man's zone, left undeveloped because city and county officials cannot agree how to develop it." That has left the stadium flanked by "a town hall, banks and executive offices -- which are all closed on game days -- on the Ohio side" of the river. "Some great bars are about a 10-minute walk away," and "a 15-minute walk across the river" to Newport-on-the-Levee in Kentucky puts you in "a wonderful historic area with outdoor patios, cafes and jazz bars." It's hard for many to escape the reality Cincinnati has drug "its feet so much on building up the neighborhood so that the Kentucky side of the river is the place to be."
4 out of 10
After years of drudgery on the Ohio River, it seems the Bengals have gotten their act together. While those efforts have advanced in fits and starts on the field, they have blossomed in full in the team's seven-year-old stadium. For all of its aesthetic leanings, Paul Brown Stadium still satisfies the traditional meat-and-potatoes yearnings of the NFL fan, with hearty Midwestern fare inside and outside the stadium, and with a stadium design that doesn't hide from the weather. The surrounding neighborhood has been slow to catch up, but if the team keeps attracting the crowds it has been of late, developers won't eschew the money-making opportunities throngs of people with disposable income present.
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