The structure now known as Progressive Field has been the home of the Cleveland Indians since it opened 20 years ago, and soon it will be getting a facelift.
On Wednesday the Indians announced that they plan a major renovation of Progressive field that will take place over the next two years in an effort to better connect with fans. The ballpark is situated in downtown Cleveland and has always gotten high marks from the people I know who have been there. But after 20 years I’m sure it could use some fixes.
The franchise plans to make modifications to both the interior and exterior of the area stretching from center to right field. The number of seats in the area will be reduced as a result of the changes, but the team will add “social areas to accommodate fans” in an effort to help offset the costs of losing those seats.
The project’s first phase is projected to be finished by the 2015 home opener and will be privately financed. On Thursday the team will hold a news conference to provide details of the “major enhancements” planned for the 43,000-seat venue.
The Indians have seen attendance drop from a franchise-best 3.46 million in 1999, to 1.57 million last season. They are currently only drawing 18,659 fans per game this season, which is the second lowest total in baseball.
Downtown Cleveland is in the middle of a rebirth and the renovation of the stadium will likely be a big part of it. Younger fans are looking for a different game-day experience than their older counterparts, which means adding trendier food and beverage options and possibly building up the area around the park as well.
Progressive Field will now join FirstEnergy Stadium (home of the Browns) and Quicken Loans Arena (home of the Cavs) as Cleveland sports venues undergoing enhancements.