Ballpark Review: Progressive Field

Franchise: Cleveland Indians

Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 38,000

Games Attended: June 6 & 7, 2015 v Baltimore Orioles

Sec 51, Row X, Seat 1; Sec 34, Row P, Seat 1

When I first told friends I was going to Cleveland, I got a lot of crazy looks. I was even pointed towards this video of Joakim Noah of the Bulls basically saying, “Who the F goes to Cleveland by choice?”. Well, I do Noah, I do. While I didn’t have great expectations for the city, I did have some expectations for Progressive Field. Although it’s been around for about two decades, it was and still is considered one of the best parks around.

1) Aesthetics- 21.5/25

Exterior- 3.5/5

For a modern park, the exterior is rather outdated. The main entrance by home plate gives the impression you are about to walk into an old, cookie-cutter stadium. And the open, outfield entrance is nothing to write home about in terms of exterior design.

Interior- 9/10

“The Jake” as Progressive used to be known really is a beautiful ballpark. It has a gigantic video board atop the bleachers in left and it fits the mold of the stadium perfectly.The Indians retired numbers are plastered on the right field upper deck so you can’t miss it and they fit into the look of the park seamlessly. Every time I look at the pictures I took here, I am blown away.

Backdrop- 9/10

Beyond the video board in left are city buildings and Quicken Loans Arena, which is a huge plus for me. Something about skylines and buildings in the backdrop of a stadium are just aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Despite the board in left and an upper deck in right, there is open space in center so you don’t feel like you’re in a stadium and you get more city sight lines. The park is nestled on a downtown city block which gives it a really unique field, compared to a stadium like Turner or Nats Park, which are kind of in the middle of nowhere.

2) Seats & View- 17/20

Sight lines-9/10

After walking around the park I concluded there is almost no bad view- except for the bleachers in left. I sat several rows back near home plate the first game I was at and had great sight lines, even on balls hit deep in the outfield. The second game I was equal to the infield/outfield cutoff on first and still felt really close to the action. No matter where you sit (except the bleachers) you will be able to see the video board. The upper deck is angled very steep like Turner, so you have a great view and don’t feel like you are in a nose bleed seat- and you get an even better view of downtown Cleveland! Now- the bleachers. I like that it had back support. But you can’t see balls hit to deep left (the outfield disappears with the high fence) and you you need to do a 180 turn and crane your neck up high just to see the video board.

Recommendation: 100 level, anything on the first base/home plate side. Also, the right field standing room only ticket. Its right by the food court with the brats and sliders and what not, as well as a bar. You get a great view, can still see the video board, and are right by the bullpen, which is built into the crowd so you can be just feet away from pros throwing 90 MPH- a fantastic seat. And I believe standing room only is $13 and comes with a free drink (with beer as an option).

Proximity- 4/5

As mentioned above, you feel close to the action. I refrain giving a perfect score because you’re not RIGHT ON TOP of the action- but still pretty close.

Comfort- 4/5

The seats had a ton of leg room. What keeps the score down is that some seats like the bleachers truly are not comfortable.

3) Atmosphere- 10/15

Fan Participation- 4/5

Considering the low attendance figures, I was surprised by the great atmosphere. Fans packed the lower levels and bleachers for both games. Almost everyone was in Indians gear (or Orioles gear). A lot of hecklers, cheers, and jeers as well. When the super fan with the drum got his beat going, everyone joined in every time- it was really cool. HOWEVER, in both games the stadium started to empty out after the 7th inning stretch. Which was crazy considering the first game was a 2-1 game. If not for that, the score would have been higher.

Attendance- 2/5

While the games I were at were pretty full, there is no denying the Indians current attendance rate 40%. Not good.

Fan Knowledge- 4/5

I could hear fans all around me talking about the team, trade rumors, and more so it showed the fans were passionate. Cleveland is a baseball town, all they need now is a competitive team.

4) Attractions- 8.5/15

Museum & Team History- 6.5/10

One of the few disappoints was this aspect of the park. Heritage Park is the only real attraction. It’s located behind the batters eye in center and it honors players in Indians history. Now it does a good job highlighting a lot of players and moments throughout the years, but it was only plaques. Heritage Park is billed as some grand place that honors their history. Nope. It’s just a small area with plaques. To end on a positive, I like how they displayed their retired numbers at the top of the right field upper deck. Some might find it “out of the way” but I think it spiced up an area that is typically bland in most parks.

Things to See & Do- 2.5/5

They had a decently sized team store, but it was poorly organized and the checkout line was placed so it got in the way of people browsing around (in my opinion at least). Outside of this, I couldn’t find anything to do other than wait for the first pitch.

5) Food & Drink- 8.5/10

Hot Dog- 3.5/5

When it comes to topping off your dog, there is a big debate about stadium v ballpark mustard in Cleveland. I am not a mustard guy, but I went with the ballpark mustard and it was better than most mustard I have had in the past. As for the dog itself, it was as average as it gets (but $3!).

Best of the Rest- 5/5

As far as the rest of the food- holy cow everything looked and smelled amazing. I also got an Italian sausage with peppers and onions which was really good, for a low price ($9 with toppings). The Prog also had a burger stand that smelled incredible in a right field food location that had sliders, the sausages, and other great food. They offer Rally Burgers for $5 and Pierre’s ice cream as well. This is the best value food you will get in MLB. The drinks were also good. The Washington Post had an article last year stating Progressive had one of the best offerings in baseball and its true. They did have your run of the mill stuff, but offered a lot of local and other craft brews which was really cool. Another feature I like is that you can walk the concourse at the top of the section and still see the game, and then walk to your right to access the food concessions. They also have food tables at the top of the seats on the first level, so you can sit down and eat your food there and still watch the game before getting back to your seat.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 1/5

It honestly was like they didn’t even try. They had the shittiest mascot race I have ever seen. It was a straight race and over in 10 seconds. The promotions crew could hardly seem to care about getting the fans (mainly kids) pumped up and each inning ketchup and mustard mascots would dance on the dugout. And the main mascot, Slider, barely had a presence.

7) Cleanliness- 3.5/5

Just like Turner, the cleanliness is what you expect for a stadium in its third decade. Its clean but you can tell it has wear and tear. One thing I liked is how spacious the bathrooms were. Normally it is very crowded but the Prog gives you a lot of personal space at the urinal, which is always nice.

8) Local Scene & Location- 4/5

There isn’t a ton to do, but considering the park is built into the heart of downtown, there was enough cool stuff to do before and after games. On the surrounding blocks there were plenty of bar restaurants to get some drinks and grub. Also nearby is the Browns stadium, Lake Eerie, and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame which is a must-see when in Cleveland. There is also a casino a couple blocks away if that is your thing. Overall, downtown Cleveland was way cooler than I (and Joakim Noah) would ever believe.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

With the- generally speaking low attendance of the past few seasons and mediocre play on the field, seats are cheap. But there are tons of great views and seats, which makes that an even more valuable ticket. As mentioned before, this is the cheapest food I have seen at a pro park- it’s even cheaper than a lot of Minor League ballparks. The hot was $3.50. A 16oz can of Bud was $7.5. A jumbo sausage or brat is $5-7. They had rally burgers for $5. And ice cream for $4!

As for access, the local train drops off nearby and the stadium is located right off the major highway. And if you’re in the city, it’s easily accessible by walking.

10) Misc- 1

Stats & Info- Progressive has an amazing video board in left and they can’t provide clear, important game and player information. This is my biggest complaint of the park. 0 points.

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- It is very noticeable but they wouldn’t show all the games at once. If you were looking for a specific out-of-town game score, you had to wait and miss some of the game action until that score was displayed again. 0 points.

Concourse- At the top of the section you can walk along and see the field. But if you want to go get food, you enter a different part of the concourse where you can’t see the game. Tsk tsk.

Roof- No need for a roof in Cleveland.

Tradition- There was several traditions at The Prog. Cleveland Rocks is played after wins which is awesome. There is some awesome song played in the 8th called “Hang on Sloopy”. EVERYONE knew the words. And finally- the drum guy! Every time the Indians mounted a rally he would bang away from the top of the bleacher and the whole crowd would join along by clapping.

10) Personal Opinion- 4.5/5

I want to get the negative out of the way. I HATED the use of the video board and lack of game information. For the batter, they would display their picture, season stats, and only show what they did that game via a box score graphic. Most stadiums have info on date of birth, service time, etc- some neat stuff. The Prog does not. Moreover, they only have pitch count and radar on the side LED panels on third and first- but nothing on the giant video board. One thing parks do that I love is show what pitch was thrown (e.g. slider). I couldn’t find that information here which was a big no-no for me. Also, they only display one teams info at a time. When the Indians were batting, you couldn’t look up there and see the Orioles lineup and game info if you wanted to. Also, the out of town scores sucked. They only showed just a few at a time and only had the score, not who was on base and who was pitching, as all other out of town boards always show. I didn’t like that. HOWEVER, it didn’t take away from my game experience and Progressive was awesome. It felt like a small bandbox but still had the modern, stadium-like aspects to it which was great. Fitting it in downtown Cleveland is amazing as that is so much better than being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by parking lots- you can actually walk to a game here! The food and drink was great, the fans were good, and the views were awesome. The Prog is another must-see stadium.

Overall Score- 84.5/115

As Drew Carey once proclaimed: CLEVELAND ROCKS

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