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
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 SECOND 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.
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. 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.