The Cleveland Indians announced on Aug. 7 that Progressive Field is getting a makeover. Called “The Progressive Field Evolution,” the multimillion-dollar renovation project will start in the off season. Most of it is expected to be complete by Opening Day 2015, with the remainder to be finished early in the season.
Progressive Field opened in April 1994. At that time it was called Jacobs Field. The baseball park set a major league record by selling out all of its 43,000 seats for 455 straight games between June 12, 1995, and April 4, 2001. However, in recent years the Indians have registered a drop in attendance. The Tribe said on its website that it is drawing an average of 18,659 fans per game this season.
The renovation project is meant to bring fans back. For the past four years, the Indians have researched other sporting facilities and have listened to what their own fans have had to say. The result is a 100 percent privately funded project that will enhance the fan experience at no cost to the taxpayer. Delaware North Cos., the Tribe’s food and beverage partner, will also help pay for the renovation.
Plans call for a reduction in capacity for the 43,000-seat facility. The new Progressive Field will have between 37,000 and 38,000 seats, and will put more focus on group gathering spaces. It will feature a revamped Gate C entrance at E. Ninth Street, new bullpens among the seats, a beyond the right-center-field wall, a new group seating area, a two-story bar for adults, and an expanded Kids Clubhouse with a climbing wall, batting cage and pitching machine.
“We cannot only think about ‘on the field,’ ” Tribe president Mark Shapiro said in a statement for the press. “We also have to obsess about being innovative in every single aspect of fan experience in our business. The reality is, as sports entertainment has evolved, media and technology have impacted not only the way our fans view our game and our sport but the way they consume it and experience it in the ballpark.”
In spite of the seating reduction, the Indians will not change their ticket price structure. They’re also working on other modification plans, to be announced in the next two or three years.
“We want the experience to be more compelling,” Shapiro said. “We want people to come to the ballpark.”
Photo credit: The Cleveland Indians