Last Saturday night, I was standing in the extremely long line to acquire an Omar Vizquel jersey prior to the Indians’ game with Detroit. With the 12,500 giveaway limit (many nights, just for the first 10,000), you basically need to go as soon as the gates open to assure that you get the item. I struck up a conversation with the man next to me, and he commented “I can’t believe the number of people just getting their jersey and leaving. Why won’t you stay and watch the game?” I pointed out that they were likely getting the jersey, leaving to hang out at a restaurant near the ballpark, then returning by 7 p.m. He had absolutely no idea that you could exit and re-enter Progressive Field on the same ticket. After we got our jerseys and were leaving to go grab dinner, I happened to hear a woman say “I can’t believe all of these people that aren’t bothering to stay for the game.” It seemed obvious to me that a lot of people may be unaware of this policy. I started to think about all of the little quirks and tips that a lot of Indians fans don’t realize exist. I figured I’d share some of my favorites, and perhaps others could mention ones that I forgot (or never knew about in the first place).
Re-entry policy – Within the past year or two, the Indians decided to allow fans to enter and exit the park on the same ticket. This is fantastic for a number of reasons – with the limited giveaway items, it gives you a chance to arrive early, get an item, yet go save a few bucks by eating at a local bar or restaurant. We always used to arrive downtown around 5 p.m. or so in order to grab a bite to eat before games. So now, we just stop over at the ballpark first and make sure we grab the item. It’s also great if you should happen to forget something in your car. For example, one time my father went to a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and realized he left his cell phone in the car. We had an ill family member, and he was worried that nobody would be able to reach him in the case of an emergency…so he wanted to go retrieve it for peace of mind. He ended up having a really hard time convincing them to let him go to the car and come back in. The re-entry policy means that this is no longer a concern. Also, if there’s a bulkier giveaway item that you don’t want to carry around all night, now you can run out and put it in your car. You have to exit out of Gate A (by the home run porch) and make sure they scan your ticket as you exit…otherwise you won’t be able to re-enter.
Bringing in food and water – One of the biggest complaints I hear about MLB games (and sporting events in general) is that it gets extremely expensive. With the ever-climbing prices of Indians tickets, it could get pricey for a family to attend games on a regular basis. That’s often followed by “and don’t get me started on the food and drink prices.” And yes, it is kind of absurd to pay $4-5 for a bottle of water, and if you’re multiplying those numbers by four or five to feed a family, the cost runs up quickly. (Even though the Indians’ stadium prices aren’t nearly as bad as some of the parks I’ve visited). A lot of people don’t realize that you can bring in your own food, and can also bring a bottle of water, as long as it’s still sealed. You could almost make a little picnic out of it for your family, and if you’re still thirsty, you can just refill your water bottle at the fountain. You could also just eat before you come to the ballpark, but a lot of people like snacking while they’re at the game. Bringing your own snacks is a great way to save money.
Free parking – Parking prices can end up pretty steep as well, especially the closer you get to the ballpark. A lot of people don’t stop to think about the fact that you can often find free parking around Progressive Field. Most metered spots are not monitored after 6 p.m., or on Saturdays and Sundays (make sure to check posted signs, and what it says on the meter itself). I find free spots pretty consistently, although a lot of times I have to park a bit closer to Cleveland State. So if you don’t feel comfortable with the extra walk, you may have a bit more of a difficult time finding spots. If you don’t mind the slight hike, there are often spots available. I will admit that it’s been a bit tougher since the Casino opened, but it’s not as bad as it was when it first opened.
MLB At the Ballpark app – If you happen to have a smart phone, the MLB At the Ballpark app is one of my personal favorites. It used to be park of the MLB At-Bat app, but was separated into its own a couple of years ago. Basically, when you enter the game you “check in” as attending. It then keeps track of all of the games you attend, at any stadium around MLB (and keeps them all from year to year). Someone asked me a few days ago how many games I’ve attended so far in 2014. Because I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday, I wasn’t sure; I brought the app up and saw that I’ve attended 11. I can also bring up box scores and game info, if I’m trying to remember the last pitcher I saw start, or the game where someone went 3 for 4, etc. The other great thing about the check-ins is that you can “unlock” offers. Sometimes it’s just a team shop discount, but other times they can be a bit more interesting. For example, just this season alone I’ve checked in and earned an Orel Hershiser bobblehead, as well as an Omar Vizquel bobblehead. I’ve won a couple of t-shirts in the past. Last Friday, a few lucky winners got a chance to watch fireworks on the field. Even though a lot of MLB teams have some offers, the Indians seem to have quite a few of them. A couple of years ago when I checked in at Camden Yards, they had a great offer where after 20 check-ins, you got to watch batting practice from the field. Obviously I wasn’t going to reach 20 in Baltimore, but it’s an example of some of the types of things that are out there. Plus it has a lot of general information about the park, if you don’t want to try and surf through the Indians.com mobile site on your phone’s browser. You can even buy tickets through it. One thing to watch – it can automatically post to social media that “such and such checked in with the ‘At the Ballpark’ app.” If you do not want it to do that, make sure you’ve turned it off in your settings.
You’re the designated driver? Get a free small Pepsi – If you check in as the designated driver up until the third inning at Fan Services, you can get a free small Pepsi product (I think you may get entered in some type of drawing for a prize as well). It’s a nice way to get a free small drink.
Catch a homer or a foul on the fly, get a certificate – Maybe this doesn’t thrill you that much, but I love things like this. When I was in London a few weeks ago, I made sure to get the little certificate that proved I climbed the monument to the Fire of 1666. When I was in China a few years ago, I bought a cheesy little medal that said I climbed the Great Wall. So if you like little mementos, this is a neat perk. You have to catch it on the fly, and I believe that the staff keeps an eye out for this.
I know there are more things I’m forgetting – what are your favorite little tricks when you head to an Indians game?