In an effort to provide a different and unique fan experience, the Cleveland Indians are making changes to Progressive Field for the 2015 season.
Thursday the Indians announced a plan to make major enhancements this offseason, aimed at adapting to fans’ expectations for their ballpark experience. Enhancements will include a new two-story bar, a group seating area, new placement of the bullpens and a new open, dramatic Gate C in right field. The project, with support from Delaware North is completely privately funded.
“Fans have changed the way they interact with baseball and other forms of entertainment. As a result, we have to adapt by creating new, compelling experiences to evolve our ballpark to align with fans’ interests,” Indians President Mark Shapiro said. “We’re proud to provide targeted, new experiences that enhance the connection between Progressive Field and revitalizing city around us.”
The enhancements are an effort that began in research approximately four to five years ago, with a more narrowed focus in the last two to three years focus on the growth of downtown Cleveland. The now closed and dark Gate C area in right field will be a dramatic entrance with visual connection to the field from the exterior and dramatic views of the Cleveland skyline from inside the ballpark. This will be enabled by removing The Market Pavilion and Batter’s Eye Bar. The new Gate C will also highlight the team’s history with the consolidation of the Bob Feller and Jim Thome statue—including the unveiling of a Larry Doby statue in 2015. The Doby statue will be constructed by Dave Deming—the creator of the Thome statue.
Once inside the ballpark, the connection to Cleveland will be more prevalent with popular city neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont incorporated into the new concourse space in right field. The new concourse will lead to a social gathering space, a climate-controlled, two-story bar in right field. The bar is expected to have indoor and outdoor options and views of Cleveland that are unmatched.
The enhancements will also bring a closer attachment to players through redesigned bullpens in center field. Bullpens will be stacked on top of one another, similar to Comerica Park in Detroit, with seats surrounding them. Some fans will sit in front of the bullpens.
In the right field corner the Kid’s Clubhouse will expand to a two level structure, including the Mezzanine concourse area being renovated with new, improved attractions for families, including family restrooms. The Kid’s Clubhouse is already the only in Major League Baseball that allows fans to watch the game while their children play. Finally, the Upper Reserved area in right field will feature terraced decks for group outings with views of the playing field. This will replace the Carnegie Tent area that was on the ballpark’s exterior. The decks will be built over the existing seats, creating a possibility of bringing the seats back if trends indicated a need. The seats would not be able to be brought back quickly, however, returning the seats to the ballpark would take an offseason of construction.
The exact amount of the project is yet to be determined, as the Indians will begin bidding the project out to contractors in the next month. The renovations are expected to drop the maximum attendance from 42,000 to between 37-38,000. All enhancements to the ballpark are free with a purchased ticket as no additional charge will be expected after entering the ballpark.
Construction is slated to begin after the completion of the 2014 baseball season and is hopeful to be completed by Opening Day. The Indians do realize weather could impact the renovations, causing them to possibly not be complete for the start of the 2015 season, but have that as their goal.
This is the first, and most major phase of reconstruction, in what the Indians hope will be a two-phased enhancement project to the 21-year old ballpark. Progressive Field is currently the 11th oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.
Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Indians