This weekend the Cleveland Indians unveiled the new look Progressive Field to tens of thousands of fans as Opening Day weekend arrived and brought with it some unseasonably beautiful weather. While the result on the field wasn’t what everyone was hoping for the stadium itself was the true star of weekend. In the past there has been a real struggle for the Indians to draw fans on a nightly basis. To that end, the Indians have targeted two main groups of Clevelanders in an attempt to fill the seats: young professionals and families.
For the younger crowd, who may not be able to afford season tickets, front row seats or club level amenities the Indians completely redesigned right field, transforming what was the Budweiser Party Deck into a multi-level standing room only area filled with rows of railings enabling people to relax with a drink and food while enjoying what turns out to still be a great view of the field. They also added “The Corner, a two story bar with multiple areas where you can get local craft beer and food from Cleveland area restaurants. This area has lounge seating to enjoy a casual experience similar to what you might find on W. 25th or East 4th. Frankly, in my mind The Corner could go toe to toe with any bar in Cleveland when it comes to enjoyment factor. It’s basically the best patio in the city and it comes equipped with live baseball.
Perhaps the most important factor in this section is the fact that the standing room only tickets are $13 including $4 off your first drink. This is clearly designed to attract a younger crowd and it worked. The Corner was packed all weekend. This area, with its affordable prices and local food and drink offerings, is perfect for groups of friends where only a few people are hardcore baseball fans while the rest just enjoy a hot dog and some sunshine. It has something for everyone.
In order to attract families Progressive Field transformed the former Mezzanine (RIP Pronkville) into the Kids’ Clubhouse, a family friendly area with concessions and fun and games designed to help entertain the little tikes who might not have the attention span for an entire baseball game just yet. In addition to kid favorite foods (oh hey, Mac & cheese!) you’ll also find cool activities like a whiffle ball “mini field”, the ability to “race” your favorite Indian, a video board where kids can mimic an players batting stance and even batting cages. They also have coloring stations, a large, two-story slide and a safe outdoor area to watch the game with a mesh screen so you don’t have to worry about kids falling through the railings.
All in all the Indians hit a home run when it comes to these renovations (I will not apologize for that dad joke). There were some awkward transitions for fans including the new entrance in centerfield and some long lines for craft beers but those will get sorted out as staff gets more accustomed to the new amenities as well. I fully anticipate that heading down to Progressive Field for a game will be how many people start their weekend evenings but it’s my hope that fans will come explore everything the stadium has to offer during the week as well. There truly is something for everyone now and with tickets starting at $13 it’s honestly one of the best entertainment values you’ll find in all of Northeast Ohio.