Progressive Field Review
Review of Progressive Field Rating: 4.5
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Stadium was originally called Jacobs Field
- It's part of an urban development called the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex
Year opened: 1994
Cost of construction: $169 million
Address: 2401 Ontario St., Cleveland, OH, 44115
Former name: Jacobs Field
Unofficial nicknames: The Jake, The Prog
Capacity as of 2014: 42,404
Record attendance: 45,274
Left field dimension: 325 feet
Center field dimension: 405 feet
Right field dimension: 325 feet
Playing surface: Kentucky bluegrass
Ticket prices: $10 to $99
Retired numbers: #3 Earl Averill, #5 Lou Boudreau, #14 Larry Doby, #18 Mel Harder, #19 Bob Feller, #21 Bob Lemon, #42 Jackie Robinson, #455 recognizing the park’s 455 straight sellouts between 1995 and 2001
Notable features: Home run porch and 19-foot outfield fence in left field, vertical stadium lights, Heritage Park historical area, Bob Feller statue, Terrace Club restaurant, Kids Clubhouse play area, Budweiser Patio group area, Social Suite, extensive suite level
Widely considered by baseball fans as one of the best places to see a game, Progressive Field was voted the top stadium in the Major Leagues in a 2008 Sports Illustrated fan poll. Once you walk through the park's gates, it probably won't take you long to decide that you agree with the fans polled in '08 -- this is a perfect place for baseball.
The stadium opened in 1994, giving the Indians a welcome reprieve from Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which they'd called home since 1947. The Indians shared that stadium with the Browns, but by the 1980s and early 1990s, baseball fans were fed up with the aging park that lacked many modern perks. Fans had plenty of reasons to celebrate in January 1992, when construction on the Indians new stadium began.
Originally named Jacobs Field in honor of the team's ownership, the new stadium opened on April 4, 1994 with elaborate pre-game festivities that included President Bill Clinton throwing out the first pitch. Jacobs Field, which many fans quickly shortened to The Jake, wasn't the only new sports facility in the area. The stadium was part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex, which included what's now called Quicken Loans Arena, home to the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. The two stadiums are separated only by a large, open pavilion that's a hub of activity before games. Quicken Loans Arena also opened in the 1994 season, and has been the home of the Cavs ever since.
From its inception, Jacobs Field proved to be a popular spot for baseball fans. In fact, the stadium sold out every home game between June 12, 1995 and April 4, 2001 -- 455 consecutive games in all, which was a Major League Baseball record at the time. As you walk around the stadium, you'll likely see "455" on the deck facing in right field, as the Indians retired the number along with the numbers of past legends.
Ohio-based Progressive Auto Insurance bought naming rights for Jacobs Field in 2008 in a 16-year agreement worth nearly $58 million. Despite the name change, many Indians fans and Cleveland residents still refer to the stadium as The Jake, so don't be surprised if you hear the term thrown around during your visit. You might also hear the term "Bug Game," which describes the infamous invasion of Lake Erie midges during a 2007 playoff game between the Indians and Yankees. Although midges have descended on Progressive Field more than once, don't expect them to disrupt your visit.
The stadium's official capacity has grown, and occasionally shrunk, since 1994. Since the start of the 2012 season, Progressive Field holds 43,429 fans. The field's dimensions are 325 feet to left field, 370 feet to left-center, 410 feet to center field, 375 feet to right-center and 325 feet to right field. The outfield fence is one of Progressive Field's signature sights; in left field, it's 19 feet high, meaning lots of long fly balls will bounce off the fence instead of clear it. This part of the fence is occasionally known as the "Mini Monster" or "Little Green Monster." In center and right, the fence is a more standard eight feet high.
From its tall bleachers in left field to Heritage Park beyond the center field fence, Progressive Field has a number of areas that define it. When you visit, make sure to take each of these areas in, as they all contribute to the Progressive Field experience. Other key sights include the park's toothbrush-shaped light poles and the scoreboard above the left field bleachers. When it was added in 2004, the scoreboard was the largest in the world, measuring 36 feet by 149 feet. But it's not just the size that matters. The scoreboard provides fans with a wealth of knowledge about each player, his stats and the game's progress. If it's out-of-town scores you're after, be sure to check out the smaller video boards located in the outfield fence.
If your schedule allows it, see if you're able to take a guided tour of Progressive Field on the day before or after you visit. Taking a tour gives you access to a number of locations around the stadium that you wouldn't get to otherwise see, including the batting cages, party suite, club lounge, visitor's bullpen. The tour also stops at Progressive Field's famous Heritage Park, providing you with a lot of interesting information on the park and its honorees. On occasion, the tour also takes you though the visitor's clubhouse. Tours are one hour in length and tickets cost $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for seniors and children under 14. Tickets are available at the Indians team shop and on the team's website. Public walk-up tours are run several times daily between May 1 and September 1, although they're not held on the same day as Indians day games and holidays.
Attractions Near Progressive Field
Visiting Cleveland for a couple games at Progressive Field? The city offers a number of other attractions to consider adding to your agenda:
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Regardless of the style of music you enjoy, it’s represented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, just a short distance from Progressive Field, the rock hall features mementoes and artifacts from a who’s who of music legends.
Christmas Story House
If you grew up watching the movie that warned against the risk of shooting your eye out with a Red Ryder BB gun, make time to visit the house used in the movie. You can tour the Christmas Story House for a fee, but it’s fun just to grab a couple pictures in front of the house – and see the “leg lamp” sitting in the front window.
Lake View Cemetery
Cemeteries can occasionally be morbid, but Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery provides a walk through American history. It’s the resting place of such notable historical figures as President James A. Garfield, “Untouchable” Eliot Ness, billionaire John D. Rockefeller and many more. Former Cleveland Indian Ray Chapman, killed after being struck in the head with a pitch in 1920, is also buried at Lake View.
Great Lakes Science Center
Located adjacent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center is an ideal spot to visit if you’re traveling with kids. It’s home to permanent and traveling exhibits and an enormous Omnimax theater.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is just a short drive outside the city’s downtown and features extensive exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils, primates, gems, moon rocks and more.
If you’re planning a visit to Progressive Field as part of a baseball road trip, a number of near (and not-so-near) sports facilities might have appeal:
Quicken Loans Arena
It’s not baseball related, but you can’t beat the convenient location of Quicken Loans Arena. Known as “The Q” by the locals, this arena might not have the same appeal since LeBron James took his talents from Cleveland to South Beach, but the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers is worth checking out. It’s right across the street from Progressive Field and is worth a quick photo or two at the very least.
Don’t be tricked by its new, corporate name. FirstEnergy Stadium is still mostly known as Cleveland Browns Stadium, and is just a short distance from Progressive Field. Hitting a baseball and football game on a sports road trip keeps the fans of each sport in your group of friends happy, and while the Browns aren’t exactly tearing up the gridiron, this stadium is a fun place to watch a game.
Classic Park is the closest Minor League Baseball park to Progressive Field and should be of interest if you’re an Indians fan. It’s home to the Lake County Captains, the Class-A affiliate of the Tribe. Located less than 30 minutes from Cleveland in the suburb of Eastlake, Classic Park features affordable prices, a decent menu and a chance to see future Indians up close.
Less than 45 minutes south of Progressive Field, you’ll find Canal Park, home of the Double-A Akron RubberDucks. Like the Captains, the RubberDucks are an affiliate of the Indians, but because it’s Double-A ball, you’re more apt to see a few guys you recognize. Canal Park is an impressive Double-A facility and if you’re into extreme eats, few teams offer a better spread than the RubberDucks.
If you’re thinking about seeing future Indians in action, you’d be remiss not to drive a couple hours southwest to Columbus to see the Triple-A Clippers in action at Huntington Park. This ballpark is one of the gems of the International League, and the city’s downtown is a hip, fun place to be. Regardless of the night you visit, you’re almost guaranteed to see a MLB player on a rehab stint – either with Columbus or the visiting team – and, as is always the case with the minor leagues, you can’t beat the price.
PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is the closest major league stadium to Progressive Field. And even if you’re more of a fan of the American League style of play, PNC Park is worth a visit. It’s an absolute gem. From its location on the banks of the Allegheny River to the yellow Roberto Clemente Bridge to the iconic view of downtown Pittsburgh, PNC Park should be on the bucket list of any baseball traveler.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
OK, so it’s not exactly a short drive from Progressive Field, but Oriole Park at Camden Yards is worth a visit for any baseball fan. Built just two years before Progressive Field and known as the father of the modern/retro parks that have popped up around baseball, Oriole Park will likely earn a spot among the favorite parks you’ve visited.
Like the Indians, the Detroit Tigers play in the American League Central. If you’re a fan of the Tribe and want to see them on the road, set your car toward Detroit’s Comerica Park and you won’t be disappointed. Another impressive, new park, Comerica features a great selection of statues, numerous attractions for kids and outstanding views of Detroit’s skyline.
U.S. Cellular Field
If you want to keep your baseball road trip within the American League Central, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago might be on your radar – especially on a day that the Indians and playing the White Sox. U.S. Cellular Field and Progressive Field share the same architect, but the former opened in 1991. This park has gone through a number of renovations, and it’s known for its vast array of historical sculptures, fan deck and impressive selection of food.
Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City also has a spot on the list of American League Central parks that you might choose to visit to see the Indians on the road. The home of the Royals is notable because while it opened in 1973, it’s undergone such vast renovations that you’d hardly guess this is an old park. Most notable is the addition of the fountains in center field.