BY GEOFF HOBSON
Paul Brown Stadium's NFL regular-season opener pitting the Bengals against the Cleveland Browns is sold out with about 66,000 fans planning to watch Cincinnati open the 2000 season. The Bengals announced the sellout today, meaning the 1 p.m. game on Sept. 10 can be seen on Channel 12 in Cincinnati, Channel 7 in Dayton, Ohio, and Channel 27 in Lexington, Ky.
The Bengals also announced that a limited number of partially obstructed seats went on sale today at TicketMaster outlets, by phone to TicketMaster at 513-562-4949, or on bengals.com. They are not available at the Bengals ticket office, or by phone to the Bengals' ticket office.
TicketMaster outlets are located at all Thriftway stores in Cincinnati and at selected Kroger stores outside Cincinnati.
The sellout verifies what Bengals President Mike Brown has always known. The club's fan base is one of the most loyal and hearty in the NFL and the Browns-Bengals rivalry still has a hold on the public thanks to Paul Brown himself. The first America's Team belonged to the Browns and Cleveland when coach Paul Brown hooked up his championship team on a TV network that covered two-thirds of the nation.
"The Browns were very popular in Cincinnati," said Mike Brown of his father's teams. "And some of that support never really left here. It was handed down by parents and grandparents. They were the one team that was on TV all the time and people responded."
Brown saluted the Bengals' fans who lived through the nightmarish '90s and he knows exactly what's on their mind: "We've got great fans. They've been supportive and we know they're chewing through the bit. They want us to get it right. And so do we. We think the stadium is a step in the right direction."
Brown knows his team is young, but he also thinks it will exciting. Particularly on offense, where the Bengals start two rookie wide receivers in Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans and a second-year quarterback in Akili Smith. But they think there's enough talent that on-the-job training will make them better quicker. For instance, the club plans to stick with its corps of five receivers who have a total of four years of NFL experience and see how it responds against Cleveland.
"They may be young now," Brown said. "But they will grow."