“This is a lot different than Cleveland Stadium, dad”, I uttered in amazement—what seems like just a few seasons ago—as we walked through that magical gate on the Home Run Porch and entered Jacob’s Field (Progressive Field since 2008) for the very first time. That, baseball friends, was the understatement of a lifetime.
It is difficult to fathom that the gem on The Corner of Carnegie and Ontario will be entering its 22nd season of play here in 2015. It really doesn’t seem that long ago when the ballpark opened its doors on April 2, 1994 for an exhibition game against the Pirates. Perhaps that is because what ensued in the following years were many magical seasons, thrilling comeback wins, and an unprecedented baseball—and ballpark—renaissance for the Cleveland Indians and their fans.
Twenty-one years after opening, Progressive Field is still a special ballpark and is rightfully viewed with this distinction by countless fans and media, both locally and nationwide. It seems surreal that the ballpark is the 11th oldest of all 30 MLB parks as we enter the 2015 season. Like any building, aging takes its toll and upgrades and modernization are inevitable. The Cleveland Indians & The Gateway Economic Development Corporation have grasped that concept with open arms and taken Progressive Field’s upgrades to an elite level.
The ballpark upgrades look to be impressive, all while maintaining the architectural integrity and traditions of the original design. Along with the fans, the Indians organization is equally excited as the renovations aim at keeping a watchful eye on the Tribe’s diverse fan base. “The center field and Right Field District project will be the biggest driver to the fan experience in 2015. The project is aimed at improving the fan experience for a number of fan segments, including millennials, families, die-hards, and group buyers,” says Joel Hammond, the Cleveland Indians Communications Coordinator.
The Right Field District will feature Cleveland food favorites like the one-of-a-kind grilled cheese sandwiches from Melt, tasty tacos from Barrio, and premium ice cream from Sweet Moses. The Corner will be a lively two- story indoor/outdoor bar with an unmatched view of the playing field. The Indians are offering a special District Ticket with your first beer free as well!
See more on the new offer: District Ticket
In addition to these adult playgrounds for foodies and craft beer honks, the family experience will be new and exciting too, as the expanded Kid’s Clubhouse will include interactive games and a 2-story slide. Additionally, the new Family Deck—formerly known as the Mezzanine—will feature more family friendly entertainment and kid-driven concessions. Just like the special District Ticket for adults, there will be the special Kids Ticket offered as well (Kids Ticket). While we’re discussing the former mezzanine area, can we advocate a movement to change the famous Pronkville to “Mossland” to encourage new slugger Brandon Moss to hit the second deck with a few homerun balls?
The center field renovation will be highlighted by better connection to the players, with new center field bullpens with vivid internal and external views. The view of the city will be even more dramatic with the removal of the former Batter’s Eye Bar, Market Pavilion, and bridge above it. Fans inside the park will get a clear view of East 9th Street’s new look, while fans standing on East 9th will actually be able to see home plate from a distance, a feature which few MLB ballparks can boast from multiple entrances. There will also be a new statue honoring Tribe legend Larry Doby.
See other renderings of the center field & right field renovations: Renderings
Though this dramatic construction work is the most visible and exciting element for most fans, the Cleveland Indians & Gateway have focused on other imperative ballpark upgrades as well. Progressive Field will continue to feature new LED and cutting-edge lighting technologies, all in an effort to go green and increase energy efficiency, improve light levels, and highlight the many great architectural features of the ballpark.
Despite being built 21 years ago, the ballpark will feature additional 2015 technologies that make it seem new. Concourses and concession areas feature new flat screen televisions, while seating areas will experience upgraded sound systems, all in an effort to maximize the fan experience. As is tradition, the 2015 season will feature new foods and tasty treats, an increased selection of craft beers, and a few surprises fans look forward to discovering on Opening Day.
In addition to the exciting ballpark transformations and upgrade of the now 21-year old facility, the Tribe has a great niche for tugging at the heartstrings of fans and reconnecting us to the memorable teams that took the field during the magical early years of the new park. Recent seasons have featured the unveiling of the Jim Thome Statue, along with Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame inaugurations for favorites such as Omar Vizquel, Carlos Baerga, Charles Nagy, Sandy Alomar, and Mike Hargrove.
If you take some time to study the promotional schedules of other MLB teams—along with ballpark visits made by players of yesteryear—very few parallel the Indians and the presence that former Tribesmen still have within the organization, a sign of players’ connection to the appreciative fan base who cheered them so loudly while selling out 455 consecutive games during that historic run. That run was very special, and one that fans, players, and the Indians organization all recognize and cherish. 2015 Promotional Schedule
The 2015 Cleveland Indians Promotional Schedule features a number of giveaways, special dates, and guest visits commemorating the 1995 team who dominated the American League and went all the way to the World Series. Look for replica jerseys, pennants, a celebration day for the ’95 team, and some visits from players who bring us fond memories.
When the ballpark opened in 1994 it began a vibrant new era of Cleveland baseball and invigorated a passionate fan base who craved—and still craves 21 years later—the ultimate prize, a World Series Championship. 1995 was the most special of all…Flash forward 20 years later to 2015 and with so many renovations and exciting developments to Progressive Field—and a young, talented, competitive team with a sprinkling of high-character veterans—it seems like the perfect time for another championship run.
It’s the 11th-oldest ballpark in all of MLB, but Progressive Field is still a gem, and its home team and baseball organization deserve a gem on their ring fingers too. What better time than now?