The Cleveland Indians unveiled plans for privately funded improvements to Progressive Field that will focus on more group areas and family spaces within the 20-year-old ballpark.
The improvements, undertaken with concessionaire Delaware North, will be mostly completed at the beginning of the 2015 season, though some work is expected to extend into the regular season. The changes are to only one part of the ballpark: center field to right field and Gate C. The result will be a slightly smaller ballpark when it comes to seating capacity, but one with a greater emphasis on group areas, families, and distinct neighborhoods. This is not a new trend, but it's one that will be welcome to see at Progressive Field, which opened in 1994 as Jacobs Field.
Gateway Economic Development Corp., as owner of the ballpark, must sign off on the changes. But given that there's no tax money involved, no one is expecting any serious opposition.
Here's a rundown of the improvements:
- Expanded Kids Clubhouse: First introduced in 2012, the Kids Clubhouse will grow to two levels. The Mezzanine concourse area also will be renovated, with new, improved attractions for families.
- Social gathering space: A climate-controlled, two-story bar in right field.
- Dramatic new Gate C: The new Gate C area 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 and reorienting the fan entrance, allowing for a better connection with a revitalized part of the city and allowing residents and downtown workers better views of the field.
- Connection to players: Redesigned bullpens in center field provide unique interaction with players and a new exclusive seating area.
- Connection to Cleveland: Popular city neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont will be incorporated into the new Gate C concourse space.
- Historical connection: More of the franchise's storied history will be incorporated throughout the ballpark, especially at the new Gate C; the Bob Feller and Jim Thome statues will be consolidated there and will be joined there by future statues -- including in 2015 by a Larry Doby statue.
- New Group seating area: The Upper Reserved area in right field will feature terraced decks for group outings with sweeping views of the playing field, which previously were limited to the Carnegie Tent area on the ballpark's exterior.
"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," said Indians President Mark Shapiro. "We're proud to provide targeted, new experiences that enhance the connection between Progressive Field and revitalizing city around us."
Renderings courtesy Cleveland Indians.
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