Paul Brown Stadium
When the Cincinnati Bengals moved into Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, the franchise was in the midst of a downturn that saw them miss the playoffs for 15 straight years, so it took a little while for the new palace on the banks of the Ohio River to become a sought-after destination for NFL fans. Slowly, though, the team became competitive again and is currently a championship contender on a regular basis (though it still has yet to win a playoff game since 1990).
Despite the doldrums and the heartbreak, Bengals fans remain loyal and continue to represent at Paul Brown Stadium, filling the air with their “Who Dey!” chants. Not only do they have a beautiful stadium to visit, they also can get their NFL fix in a great locale. There’s plenty to do in downtown Cincinnati, and the stadium’s location lends a lot to the gameday experience.
Inside, the franchise puts its proud history on display, beginning with the very name of the joint. And architecturally, the stadium stands out, as it was the only football venue to make a 2007 list of “America’s Favorite Buildings and Structures.”
- The Approach
The center of sports in Cincinnati is the swath of land between the Ohio River and Interstate 71 as it cuts across the downtown area — there you’ll find not only Paul Brown Stadium, but also Great American Ball Park (home of the Reds) and U.S. Bank Arena (which hosts the Cincinnati Cyclones of minor-league hockey).
Getting to the area isn’t difficult if you’re traveling via highway, whether you’re coming from Ohio or neighboring Kentucky. Look for downtown exits to Second Street (if you’re on I-75) or Third Street (if you’re on I-71 or I-471), but either way you’ll have to work your way around downtown streets to get close to the stadium. Click here for more detailed driving directions.
Starting off downtown isn’t a bad thing if you’re a one-time visitor, as the lots closest to the stadium and south of Second Street are permit-only. Your general parking choices are limited to private structures around downtown office buildings, the structure underneath Great American Ballpark, or lots in Covington, across the river.
Fans who choose the latter can walk across one of two bridges to cross the river — the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, which is closer to the stadium, and the historic Roebling Suspension Bridge, the design of which was the inspiration for the Brooklyn Bridge. Or, if you’d rather not walk from Covington, the TANK Southbank Shuttle operates between the two sides and can be used to access Paul Brown Stadium on gamedays.
Fountain Square, a central gathering point downtown and home of perhaps the city’s most well-known landmark, has a parking structure that charges $10 for Bengals games, and hosts a pregame tailgate to boot. From there, you have about a five-block walk to the stadium — but note that as you walk toward the river, you’ll be going downhill, so be prepared for some uphill walking as you head back.
One easy way to navigate the parking scene is to reserve a spot ahead of time. You can do just that through a service called Parking Panda. Hop on their website to search for available game day parking options. You simply pick a spot that works for you, pay for it, and they’ll email you the parking pass. You can drive to the game with peace of mind knowing that a parking space is awaiting your arrival. Click below to get started.
- The Build-Up
When the city of Cincinnati replaced the cookie-cutter Riverfront Stadium (also known as Cinergy Field) with Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, they also revamped the riverfront area. The site on which Riverfront Stadium once stood now is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, as well as several bars and restaurants that are good for fans looking for pregame fun (Yard House, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Moerlein Lager House are among the current establishments).
But there’s more selection in downtown Cincinnati proper as well as Covington, where any number of eateries are more than happy to cater to football fans.
If it’s your first visit to Cincinnati, consider sampling its local cuisine. You can try Cincinnati-style chili in the form of either a coney (basically a mini chili cheese hot dog) or a 3-way (spaghetti topped with chili and cheese) at one of the city’s well-known chili purveyors, Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. Or try Graeter’s Ice Cream, a beloved local institution which has a shop at Fountain Square.
Outside the stadium, the Bengals’ pregame party, known as the Jungle Zone, is held on the east plaza along Elm Street.
- The Ambiance
Paul Brown Stadium is known by fans as “The Jungle” because of the team that plays there, and the Bengals put up jungle-themed decorations around the stadium to help enhance that feel. Other than that, though, it’s a sleek structure with good sightlines throughout for football (a fact that hasn’t been lost on the architectural community), a nice view of the downtown Cincinnati skyline behind the stands on the stadium’s east side and a nice view of the Ohio River beyond the south end zone.
In fact, Paul Brown Stadium seems to have a lot in common architecturally with Chicago’s Soldier Field, which underwent its big renovation not long after PBS opened. Not only do both venues have similar canopies shading the upper deck and end-zone displays taking on odd geometrical shapes, but outside the seating bowl, both have seemingly endless series of ramps as well. Also, PBS is one of those stadiums where, if you have upper-deck seats, you need to be sure you’re on the right side of the stadium before you ascend — if you’re on the wrong side, you’ll have to go all the way back down to the main concourse before heading around.
The stadium has tried to improve its concessions options over the years, now offering melt sandwiches, gourmet burgers and a wider craft beer selection. Some standbys remain, including Gold Star Chili and Papa John’s Pizza.
1 Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, OH 45202
All times local
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Sunday, November 25, 2018
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Sunday, December 16, 2018
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