August 7th, 2014 – Earlier this morning, Indians team president Mark Shapiro formally announced sweeping renovations to Progressive Field over the next two years that will dramatically alter the ballpark experience. Progressive Field, which turned 20 years old this season, has aged beautifully over the past two decades, but these changes were announced in the spirit of keeping the ballpark new and fresh for decades to come. I’ll detail the changes below, but here’s the quick and dirty version:
The upper right field seats? Gone.
Half of the Mezzanine? Gone.
Gate C? Remade in a new vision.
Larry Doby? Finally getting his statue.
Bullpens? Surrounded by fans.
Dollar Dog Night? Still clogging arteries.
For full details about the changes with more complete diagrams and pictures, you can check out the new section on Indians.com HERE.
Right Field Changes
Outside of Opening Day and Omar Vizquel ceremonies, the upper deck in Right Field has basically been a ghost town for a decade now. The team recognized this and is removing all of the seating high above RF and replacing it with a group seating / party area that allows groups to move around and mingle while enjoying a pretty good view of the field. No one is going to argue that the view from up in this area of the ballpark is amazing from a baseball perspective, but I could definitely see the appeal from a group’s perspective, especially considering the current view from group seating is of E. 9th street and a graveyard.
Gate C Changes
Last night, when I was considering possible changes to Progressive Field, updating the Gate C area didn’t even occur to me, but it makes tremendous sense. The changes planned to this area of the park are extensive, but I believe it will have a positive impact on the ballpark experience.
First, that entire corner of the ballpark is essentially being removed, from the Market Pavilion in center to the current Gate C to the lower half of the Mezzanine section. In its place, the Indians will construct an open-air gate to rival Gate A in Left Field that will provide that same atmosphere of walking into something special as you pass through the gate. As you can see in pictures below, Gate C will now integrate much better with Heritage Park and essentially streamline the ballpark into one consistent vision. In the big scheme of things, it is a minor change, but it’s a major improvement from an aesthetic and functionality point of view.
Also, and I’m going to put this in bold because it cannot be understated: Larry Doby is finally going to get a statue, too.
The other part of the Gate C renovations involves the concourse area behind the location of the current gate. Though the details of this area are still being finalized, this region of the park will be expanded and renovated to showcase Cleveland neighborhoods (such as Tremont and Ohio City) complete with, I expect, food and drink from these areas. If I had to guess, I’d imagine one of these neighborhoods will be serving Pierogies. If you’ve followed my Down on the Farm series, you know I geek out about these specialized concessions and areas of ballparks, so I am extremely excited this idea and what the team can do with it.
The last major change to talk about is the bullpens, which will be removed and rebuilt in the center field seats, effectively surrounded by fans. There’s not much to say about this, as the picture describes it better than I can, but I will say that I think this is a interesting idea. I did work at the park once upon a time, so I know how drunken idiots can do some stupid things, but I imagine there will be some strong security in the area. I think this has the potential to be something really cool.
Also, it’s highly unlikely a wayward pitch finds its way onto the playing field with this new set-up.
Any other concerns?
Yeah, who the heck is paying for this?
Shapiro stressed that these renovations are going to be entirely privately funded. According to the press conference, the Indians couldn’t even tap into the Sin Tax fund if they wanted to, per details in the field’s lease.
How many seats are they taking out?
It’s still being finalized, but it sounds like 6000-7000 seats will be taken out. Don’t worry, great seats will still be available.
Are there any other changes not mentioned above?
The Kid’s Clubhouse and other children-oriented areas are being massively expanded, which is cool. There will be a bar that goes from the lower deck to the upper deck which will be open to all fans, which is also cool.
What do you think about this, Adam?
I think the team is doing the right thing here by being proactive in the renovations. The park does not need the renovations now, but it’s better to do them too early than too late. I’m excited about the changes to Gate C, and I’m extremely excited for the Larry Doby statue. It’s overdue.
As far as Right Field goes, I doubt it will personally impact me in any way, but I think this is an excellent use of the space.
Finally: in the link I posted above, there’s a sublink to Tom Hamilton’s Top 10 Greatest moments [At Progressive Field]. You need to check it out. Like, right now.