Progressive Field Renovations Nearing Completion


Multi-million dollar renovations will highlight Opening Day

Opening Day in Cleveland follows that same usual script. Most of the time, at least in recent years, the first pitch isn’t thrown until sometime around 3 PM. Prior to that, fans fill up downtown bars and celebrate the season that’s to come before making their way down to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

However, this year will be different. While the name on the front of the building will hold the same striking resemblance to the one that was their back at the end of September, it’s what’s on the inside that will look noticeably different and have fans talking.

For the first time since it opened back in 1994, Progressive Field has undergone a drastic makeover. Sure, there have been minor additions and subtractions in the past, but this is the first time that seats have been pulled out and major construction has been undertaken in order to drastically change both the appearance and layout of the stadium.

Sep 28, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fans fight over a bat given away by Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) after the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Back in August, the Indians announced plans for a multi-million dollar renovation that was aimed at improving the fan experience by placing greater emphasis on the social atmosphere of the ball park. Artist’s renderings of the proposed changes presented the plan as both bold and exciting. The changes included the addition of a significantly larger kids entertainment area (because why on earth would you bring your kid to actually watch the game?), a climate controlled, two-story bar, and a fresh new gathering area at gate C.

These changes are all well and good, but they aren’t necessarily the attention grabbers. The most notable changes will be the bullpens and the right field mezzanine section.

The bullpens have been updated and will feature a tiered design out in center field that is similar to what was done in Philadelphia. This will be a drastic change from the center field and right field bullpens many have grown accustom to. The goal is to allow for great fan interaction with players.

The most dramatic change will be in right field. The new two-story bar will be visible with its glass encasing similar to the Terrace Club. In the mezzanine section, thousands of seat have been removed in order to make way for the construction of a handful of group viewing platforms. It’s an interesting decision as it will reduce the total capacity from 42,404 to 35,400. However, those 7,000 or so removed seats were hardly, if ever filled to capacity. By eliminating them, the Indians have added value to the remainder of the seats within the stadium.

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The renovations are nearing completion and most are expected to be final come opening day. However, there will still be some minor construction that will carry over into the season, but the Indians have not made anyone aware of exactly what that entails at this point. But, that hasn’t stopped them from allowing fans with a sneak peek of the renovations.

Back on March 17, the Indians invited fans down to Progressive Field to see the progress of the renovations. From the pictures that have surfaced online recently, it’s clear that what is taking shape, particularly in right field, will look drastically different from what we are used to. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing remains to be seen. After all, the project is not yet complete and it would be unfair to judge it before hand.

That’s not to say I’m not worried about what the end product will be. Because this…

Looks much different from this…

Which is drastically different from this.

One can only hope that this is not the finished product a little more than one week out from Opening Day. Logic would seem to suggest that there will be some sort of paint job or addition to the facades of those viewing tiers, perhaps green, to better match the rest of the stadium. However, why then would the retired names, number, pennants, and other miscellaneous details already be present? Is the drywall look really what the Indians were going for? Again, I’m not passing judgement, but I can’t say there isn’t some concern as this nears completion.

Hopefully those fears will be put to rest come Opening Day. And whether or not this is the finished product, it’s still an exciting development for a stadium that, while still among one of the best looking in baseball, was in need of some updating. Will it be a hit, or will it be a miss? All I can really hope is that there will actually be fans in attendance to make that judgement.

Next: Opening Day Festivities