Opened in 1994 to replace the infamous “Mistake by the Lake” Progressive Field, previously named Jacobs Field, was the final piece to the Indians rebuild. After the strike-shortened 1994 season, the Indians ran off five consecutive Central Division titles and a 455 game sell-out streak at the Jake. However since 2002 the Indians have had trouble drawing crowds to their downtown retro-styled ballpark due in part to the poor economic conditions of Northeast Ohio, averaging less than 20,000 fans the past 4 seasons. The Indians have made renovations to Progressive Field to try and compensate for some of the lost attendance by creating more fan-friendly amenities like Heritage Park in CF, a Party Deck in RF and a Kids Clubhouse in an area once utilized for Suite seats.
September 17, 2004: Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio was the second leg of our Midwestern Ballpark tour. Mike and I drove from Cincinnati on a rainy Friday afternoon. We were worried that the 7:10 game would be rained out, but were happy to see the weather improve as we neared our destination. The Cleveland Indians are one of the American League’s most historic organizations. They were the first integrated American League team; Larry Doby took the field for the Tribe in 1949. Since that historic day, the Cleveland Indians and their fans have shared some of the worst seasons in baseball history. After losing the 1954 World Series to the underdog New York Giants, the Indians spent the next 41 years on the bottom of the American League standings. Never mind returning to the World Series; the Indians could only muster a top three finish in four of those 41 years. The Indians and their loyal fans were given something to cheer about in 1994 when Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) opened. The opening of Progressive Field coincided with the arrival of future All-Stars Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar. A winning decade was to follow; the Indians won the American League pennant in 1995 and 1997 and made the playoffs in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2001. The Indians enjoyed the greatest stretch in the franchise’s 115-year history. The impact Progressive Field had on the franchise was immeasurable; it put Cleveland back on the baseball map and encouraged fans to flood the ballpark. [Read more…]