A renewed waterfront has transformed Cleveland’s nightlife
As RNC delegates saw, Cleveland had done a lot to make itself feel better long before LeBron delivered its first banner in over 60 years. But by that point, it was merely the icing on the beer-battered donut.
“It would’ve been different if it had been the Indians, or, I mean it’ll never happen but, the Browns winning a title,” a friend’s dad tells me as he steers his boat out onto Lake Erie on a hot evening just before LeBron’s latest exit. “I mean, it was great. But the Cavs are new. It’s not like there are generations of fans like we have with the Tribe or the Browns. We’re happy about it, yeah, but it didn’t save the city.”
We ride his boat past downtown and FirstEnergy stadium, home of the wayward Cleveland Browns, and end up at a waterfront park where a massive crowd is lined up on the shoreline. “Cleveland has a beach?” I ask him confused, squinting to see if that was, in fact, sand the people were standing on.
“They’ve been trying to do something with this lakefront FOREVER,” he says, as his daughter hands me a beer opener with the slogan Cleveland, it’s not that bad. “They did a great job with this park, GREAT job. Five years ago you didn’t come down here, now it’s like where everyone’s going on a Thursday, I guess.”
We dock up and walk over to Edgewater Beach, a creation of Cleveland Metroparks, who turned this septic lakefront into a fully functioning 2,400-foot beach park. The $4.4 million project was capped off last summer with the opening of the Beach House, a two-story bar and recreation area that also hosts a summer concert series. The free concerts fill the sand with a cross section of the city, where buttoned-up young professionals play cornhole and heavily tattooed people drag their kids around. Their common thread, however, was they all seemed unusually happy.