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Progressive Field Renovations

Clevelanders got their first look at the new Progressive Field renovations this past weekend, as the Indians hosted the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series.  The Indians hope these new fan-friendly features can draw people to the stadium as effectively as Miguel Cabrera can hit baseballs out of it.  I was able to attend two games of the series and wanted to share some quick observations on the new offerings.

The renovations seem to target two distinct audiences: millennial drunkards and families.  I attended Friday’s game as the former and Sunday’s as a still-hungover version of the latter.  Here's a quick look at the renovations from those two perspectives.

FRIDAY’S GAME

It’s hard to overstate how impressed I was with the new bar and standing-room area in the right-field corner.  It will change the way a lot of people attend games.  The former Budweiser party deck has been replaced with rows of standing-room areas open to anyone attending the game.  These rows are large enough to go 2-3 people deep and have a railing to set drinks and/or food.  We were standing with a group of nearly 15 people and were all close enough to hold conversation.  Don’t let this probably-too-drunk-for-a-four o'clock-start-time face fool you; the views are great for the baseball purists, as well.

I need a new hat. 
The concourse behind this standing-room area contains the new bar, called The Corner.  The Corner contains multiple bar areas, each with different craft beer selections.  Since it was the Home Opener (and therefor a sellout), the lines were pretty deep to get drinks, but I don’t think I waited more than five to 10 minutes the entire day.  Also in this area are quite a few tables and couches.  With a roof and a bit of a breeze flowing through, this will be a great retreat on hot days to get out of the sun.  

The second level of The Corner contains additional bars as well as the self-serve beer dispensers.  To use, you first purchase a $15 or $50 card to be used at each machine.  I believe $15 purchases 32 oz of craft beer.  This area is a bit clunky and I’m sure will be stream-lined as the year goes – you have to go to the tap you prefer, wave your card in front of a Chief Wahoo sticker, and then have approximately  20 seconds to fill a beer.  There was a lot of confusion as most pours would contain a lot of foam – so remember you have a full 20 seconds to dump out the foam and re-fill back to the top.  Also on this second level were more tables and a railing to watch the game.  

This was the most impressive area of the park and will probably attract a large crowd most weekend nights.

The much-discussed upper field boxes didn’t seem like nearly the eye sore they did on various pictures floating around the Internet in the last few weeks.  They don’t look particularly great, but when compared to the large unused section in left field, they are still an upgrade over empty seats.  I didn’t venture up to this section, but in terms of “here’s a nice place to drink beer” it does its job.  One nice bonus is that they make a lot of noise when fans were stomping their feet / pounding the sides during rallies.  It’ll be interesting to hear these down the stretch if the Indians are playing well. Who knows, maybe John Adams relocates here with his drum.

The “Neighborhood” areas that contain food options from local Cleveland restaurants replace many of the old vendor options throughout the park.  The prices didn’t seem outrageous for stadium food ($5.75 for a Barrio taco that had both a hard and soft shell and $9.50 for a Melt sandwich, which is about what you'd pay in one of their actual restaurants)  Craft beer options were available throughout the park at decent prices $6 for 12 oz ($4 for domestic.)   

SUNDAY’S GAME

View from family section
The area formerly known as the Mezzanine, or Pronkville if you’re nasty, has been home to kid-friendly concession and entertainment options the past several seasons.  The renovations have expanded on these and really made things easier for parents overall.  The Kids' Clubhouse is located near the entrance to this section and is great for kids of all ages.  Outside of the Kids' Clubhouse and behind the seats are multiple concession areas that have kid-friendly grub available (including stands for burgers, pizza, mac & cheese, and nachos.)  Various games and activities were also in this area that drew large crowds.  Here are a few of the options available in this area:

 Scale the wall to steal a homerun.
"Race" an Indians player to first
(Red light indicates chosen player's speed)
 Wiffle ball
Match your batting stance to an Indians player
There were also batting cages and other activities on this level.

The Kids' Clubhouse itself contains quite a few options for kids of various age levels.  For older kids, interactive screens allowed for a pretty in-depth experience with current Indians players.  My daughter being only two, I got an in-depth look at a lot of the Step 2 plastic toys in this section.  It also contained a two-story slide and coloring books, as well as an outdoor area that has screening over the railing so smaller children can play and run without fear of them falling through.  Access to this area requires a waiver and a wrist-band.
Clubhouse outdoor area







Family restrooms and concessions were all over this area, which is always helpful.  By the fifth inning there was a long line to enter the Kids Clubhouse – so I’d suggest trying to arrive a bit early and going to this area first, if interested.

We didn’t run the bases after the game, but have done so in year’s past and can’t recommend this enough.  Being on the field and having current players and coaches out giving high-fives is a really cool experience for a kid after taking in a game. 

Other quick notes:

The former Gate C area that faces East 9th got a face lift.  This is now much more wide open and has a view right down into the park.  A lot of people seemed to use this area as a meeting place, a place to take food to sit down for a bit, or to let their crazy two-year-old run off some excess energy.  But I’m not naming any names.  The Feller and Thome (grumble grumble) statues are now right outside of these gates, as well.


 Facing E. 9th (back to field)
 Facing field (back to E. 9th)
This is a small thing – but there used to be an Indians-themed Mickey Mouse statue near the escalators on the first level.  This has been replaced with a large block C logo that will undoubtedly be the Facebook profile picture of most of your friends by the end of the summer.  This is a cool feature and kids seemed to enjoy climbing on it – but the Mickey statue was always a nice distraction for kids when they started to wear out.  If it’s not going to be in the park I think you should all join my campaign to have it donated to my backyard.  

My only real gripe (outside of the aesthetics of those right-field upper deck boxes) was a somewhat confusing entry system.  I don’t remember this being quite so cumbersome in the past, but there are now metal detectors in the gates to enter.  Lines backed-up quickly as people tried to sort through their bags and phones and other items they needed to remove – and immediately after walking through the detector, someone was trying to scan your ticket.  It didn’t allow for time to sort through the things you had just removed and created a pretty large log-jam.  Definitely recommend coming early or a bit late to try and avoid some of these lines.

All in all the renovations were a hit, in my eyes.  The new bar area is easily one of the best bars downtown and a great place to meet up with a group.  The Kids' Clubhouse and other activities provide a nice break for kids who can’t make it through an entire game.  The new concessions and local food options make eating at the park affordable and gives decent options.  

As I’ve said many times before – going to a baseball game at this park is easily a top-three activity in Cleveland during the summer.  These renovations have certainly improved the experience of attending a game. 

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