Last Sunday I had the opportunity to watch the Indians-Royals game from the Social Suite. Now in its third year, the Social Suite program allows social media-savvy fans to watch a Tribe game from the comfort of a suite, and to take advantage of a free Wi-Fi connection for those who care to keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. It also gives these fans a chance to meet one another in person, the point being that if you and @TheColavitoKid read one another’s tweets, you might get a kick out of talking baseball together face to face (note: as of this writing, there is no Twitter user with that handle. If you want it, act fast).
Last March, I applied for a chance to see the game from the suite. On July 9, I got an email from Indians communications intern Courtney Shilling informing me that I was selected to attend the game on July 14, and that I could bring a guest. A few days later, another email followed, with directions on how to download tickets via my Indians Ticketmaster account (if you don’t already have one, they tell you how to set one up). After a minor glitch or two, most probably of my own doing, the ticket transfer was completed.
The later email also said that we were welcome to eat in the press dining room before the game. Tickets for the game itself were free, but the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet would cost $10 a person. That sounded good to me and to my friend Carol, so we made plans to get to the suite an hour before the 1:05 game time, as instructed.
Upon arriving at the ballpark, we found the elevator that would take us to the mezzanine level where the Social Suite is located (Suite 317, about midway between home plate and the right field foul pole along the first base line). After a brief chat with suite veterans @LaVieBoheme73 and her guest, a fellow Twitter user, someone from the staff escorted us to the press dining room. The food there was plentiful and tasty. In addition to breakfast fare (pancakes, bacon, Lyonnaise potatoes, omelets), there were burgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, cold cuts, etc. Carol made sure to have a plate of some sort of green stuff. A salad, I think she called it. There was also a generous selection of beverages and dessert items. Let’s just say it was $10 well spent.
Shortly before game time, we were told that it was time to get back to the suite. We were invited to bring such food with us as would fit on and in disposable plastic plates and bowls. By then we’d eaten quite enough, but that didn’t prevent us from bringing back a few snack items to enjoy for later.
The suite was nicely appointed, with a couch, several comfy chairs, a widescreen hi-def TV, a sink, a refrigerator, and a restroom. It was air-conditioned, which came in handy, seeing as how the game time temperature was about 85° F. But we didn’t spend a great deal of time in the suite proper, preferring to watch the game from the seats just outside the suite. There were twelve chairs there, chairs which allowed you to swivel and lean back as you chose.
And the view! As the photos below will show, the view from the suite is excellent. You can see the entire field, except for the very corner of the right-field fence (and Carol, who is almost six inches taller than me, said she could see even that). I usually get bleacher seats when I go to the game, and I don’t mind sitting in the bleachers at all, but this was better by several orders of magnitude.
There were eight of us in the suite. I admit that I wasn’t as social as I could have been. I pretty much concentrated on watching the game, and of course I did talk to Carol! And a good game it was, too, with the Indians beating the Royals 6-4, thanks to a three-run rally in the sixth inning and five scoreless innings of work from the bullpen. The victory gave the Indians a sweep of the three-game series with the Royals, and sent the Indians into the All-Star break with a four-game winning streak.
And now, some photos.
This banner hung in the suite. We were invited to sign it. They’re running out of room!Early in the game, the scoreboard urged fans to submit a photo via Twitter with the hashtag #TribeTown, saying they might display the photo on the scoreboard. I didn’t take a photo of it, but around the seventh inning, they did put this photo up for a few seconds. I’ve wanted to get my name on the scoreboard at an Indians game since I was six years old, and I finally made it!
Suite attendees are selected from a pool of applicants. According to Indians communications director Joel Hammond, the communications staff looks at “applicants’ social media presence and activity and attempt[s] to pair them with fellow attendees who share interests and overall avidity for the Indians.” To the club’s credit, that doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance if you’ve ever tweeted something negative about the team. Lord knows I have, on multiple occasions, and I got in, so you probably can, too. Click here to apply to see a game in one of the suites.
I’d like to thank Joel and Courtney for taking the time to answer some questions about the Social Suite program, and for organizing everything so carefully.
There were a couple of additional perks given to the suite attendees. There were copies of the game notes given out to the media before the game, complimentary copies of the Sunday Plain Dealer, and a free t-shirt for each suite occupant. The shirts came in several sizes, but alas, not even the largest shirt available, an XL, isn’t quite L enough for me (yes, yes, I know, I need fewer hot dogs and hamburgers and more salads).
But my loss, dear reader, might be your gain. To thank you for reading IPL, I am giving away this handsome t-shirt, which has never been worn, except for a few minutes by my friend Terri, who graciously agreed to model it for me.
If you would like to own this shirt, leave a comment at the end of this post saying so before the first pitch of the Friday, July 19 game against the Minnesota Twins. If more than one person wants it, I will draw the name of the winner at random at that time. I won’t need your real name and your address unless you are the winner of the contest, in which case you can email me with that information. I’ll announce the commenter name of the winner in a separate post on IPL, and I will mail the shirt to the winner within a day or two. If no one enters the contest, Terri gets the shirt.
This offer is void to employees of the Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field and to my fellow bloggers at IPL. It’s also void to Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, because I just don’t like that guy. Nothing personal, dude.
Update: I guess I could have made this clearer. The shirt I’m giving away is a size XL.
Follow me on Twitter: @VernMorrison