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My first trip to Paul Brown Stadium

So much has changed since my last Bengals game in Cincinnati.

New York Giants v Cincinnati Bengals

The last time I saw the Bengals play in Cincinnati was November 19, 1995, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Riverfront Stadium.

Yesterday, I finally got to visit Paul Brown Stadium for the team’s open practice. Here are my impressions.

The stadium - It was very crowded, but lines to enter moved quickly once the gates were open because, fortunately, Bengals fans are cultured and polite individuals.

The facility is large but relatively easy to navigate. I will say that, the food and Pro Shop area is a bit dark and stuffy. I imagine an update is coming in the near future. I just hope they don’t change the trash bins, which have faded tiger logos on them. I can’t comment on the quality of anything that wasn’t free, of course.

There are tons of activities for kids that are well received. For instance, it took me about half an hour just to reach the front of the line for balloon animals. But it was well worth it. I’ve honestly never owned such an elaborate balloon pirate sword in my life.

The fans - Those in attendance were boisterous and surprisingly analytical. For instance, I overheard a couple of guys breaking down the throwing mechanics of Brandon Allen on an incompletion. It was a family-friendly environment where, again, people were careful to observe the rights of others. I’m very encouraged by the people of the Greater Cincinnati area.

The superfans - I met up with Bengals Captain Obvious briefly. He was quite busy circumambulating PBS to connect with a number of his supporters. And yet, he was extremely patient when I met with him. We discussed the best options for parking. In a word, I’ll say that the Captain has kind eyes.

Bengal Jim, meanwhile, is exceedingly hospitable. He invited me to lunch. I told him that, unfortunately, I had packed my own lunch to save money, not knowing it would ultimately backfire.

I also had a positive interaction with The Orange Arrow, though I didn’t identify myself. He tried to help me find Captain, who had apparently gone looking for me.

Lastly, I will share my observance of the Stripes Squad. One member of the Bengals’ hype team saw a little girl wearing a Joe Burrow jersey shirt and said, “Nice shirt! Can I get a ‘Who Dey’?” The girl hesitated, so the man took it upon himself to shout “WHO DEEEEEEYYYYYYY!!!!” at the top of his lungs. The girl froze. The man then commended himself and looked around for applause. It was frightening and traumatic, but it did make me realize I have much work to do before I can consider myself a true fan, that is, one who is fanatical in his/her obsession with a cause.

Grade: B+. The stadium doesn’t blow you away. But the fans were both dedicated and orderly. Plus, the ticket was free.