Progressive Field Has Many New Features And Giveaways To Offer Fans
By Craig Gifford
First baseman Casey Kotchman and starting pitcher Derek Lowe were two of the few on-field additions the Cleveland Indians made this past offseason. The additions the Tribe organization made off the field are numerous.
On Wednesday, Cleveland’s front office and marketing staffs unveiled a whole host of new items fans can expect to take in this season at Progressive Field. The Indians’ brand vision for the season is “Creating memories, connecting generations and celebrating families.” That was certainly taken to heart by Cleveland’s front office over the past few months.
“Whether it’s your first time visiting the ball park or you’re a seasoned veteran we want it to be a unique, personal experience,” said Bob DiBiasio, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs for the Indians.
“One thing we will offer fans, and what they expect of us, is the very best in sports entertainment.”
Whether a fan is young, old, hungry or needing to ship, the organization has seemingly added new perks for everyone who will go to the stadium in 2012.
The experience for Tribe fans will begin, a lot of games, when they enter the stadium. As always, there will be promotional give-aways during many games. Two of the more historically successful promotions, bobble head dolls and replica jerseys, will be back this year.
Among the player jerseys will be current stars Chris Perez, Justin Masterson and Carlos Santana. Former Indians ace Charles Nagy will also get a jersey day. The bobble heads to be given out are those of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and fomer Tribe greats Sandy Alomar, Jr., Joe Carter, Carlos Baerga and Gaylord Perry. DiBiasio and his staff are especially excited about the Alomar bobblehead.
“He came to me (in the offseason) and asked why he never had a bobble head,” DiBiasio said of Alomar, now Cleveland’s bench coach. “I don’t know why we omitted such a great player in the past.”
The organization will also bring back fan favorites such as the Rally Alley, Dollar Dog Night, Puppypalooza, fireworks nights and Rock N’ Blast.
A new theme for the season will include photo days (six of these) in which fans get a photo with their favorite player.
“We’re very excited about our giveaways,” said Jason Kidik, Manager of Promotions. “We’re bringing back a lot of what we’ve done in the past and adding a day or two with a lot of them. We always want to be creative, but, at the same time, if something is working and the fans enjoy it, we have to keep it around.”
Two major policy changes that were made were in re-entry and carrying bottled water into the park. Fans who need to leave for any reason, may now do so and be allowed to go back in. This is different from previous years when the rules stated, if you leave you were out for good. Fans may also take bottle water inside Progressive Field as long as it is facotry sealed and contains 20 ounces or less.
“These are huge changes for us,” DiBiasio said. “We heard the fans loudly and clearly and this is what they wanted.”
While fans are sipping on those bottles of water, they will have many new food options to chow down with it. Highlights include the Food Network Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Food Network Hot Dog and Sausage Bar and sliders. The sliders bar will feature pulled pork and the Cleveland Bomber Slider. For those unfamiliar with the Cleveland Bomber, it is spicy and mixed with beef, provalone cheese gardenia sauce, garlic, pickled peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil.
“It like a cheesesteak with a kick,” said James Major, Regional Executive Chef. “It’s a nice balance of everything.”
One new feature Chris Angne, General Manager of Sports Service, is looking forward to is the Chefs Table.
“These will be meals created by our chefs at Progressive Field,” he said. “It will rotate by homestand.”
Angne said his food staff puts in a lot of offseason hours testing new ideas and getting the input of fans as to what they want to see in the concession booths.
“We try to have about 50 new items per year. The hope is two or three of those will be successful and come back the following season.”
The food will be enjoyed by Indians fans, young and old. The younger crowd, and their parents, will enjoy another major change at the park. There will be a new Kid’s Clubhouse, to debut May 6, on the mezzanine level. The old play area had to be relocated because it was in a spot where, “The kids loved it but their parents couldn’t see the game while their kids were having fun,” DiBiasio said.
The kids’ area will be divided into two sections. Inside will be The Rookie Suite. It will be geared toward kids six and under. The outside area, Slugger’s Sandlot, will cater to older kids.
Another noticeable change will be behind right field, where the Indians have added a wind turbine, built, in part, by members of Cleveland State University. This has been built with dual hope of helping the environment, as well as reaching out to the community. The Indians are the first team in the majors with a wind turbine.
“I can’t thank our friends at CSU enough for their collaborating efforts,” DiBiasio said. “It shows, here in Cleveland, we can have collaborating efforts that work. It’s a great day for Cleveland.”
Along with outreach to the community, the Indians have also reached out to their players. Fans will enjoy a visit from the seldom-seen Carter on his bobble head day. Albert Belle, whose relationship with the Tribe was frosty, at best, since he left as a free agent in 1996, patched things up and went to Cleveland’s spring training sight in Arizona just a couple weeks ago.
“(Our theme of) connecting generations deals with connecting to generations of players,” DiBiasio said. “Seeing the reunion (with Belle) this spring was very special. The worst thing for an athlete is to be disconnected. He is now back to being connected with the franchise.”
While the team was unveiling its new features in the Club Lounge, grounds crews were outside working on the field. Changes have been made, new policies are in place and the field is nearly ready for players to take the field. In one week, it will be time for an umpire to yell, “play ball!” and get this new season, with much hope, under way.
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