Big League Stew - MLB

We're only two parks into Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review and already there's controversy. For the past few days, I wrestled over whether I'd call the home of the Indians by the name it took this past offseason — Progressive Field — or by Jacobs Field, the name it bore for a little past its first decade. In the end, I went with Progressive Field in the end, though the picture above (check out the roof of the first-base dugout) and the daily discussion in Cleveland ("It'll always be The Jake to me") suggests otherwise.

Yet no matter what you call it, Cleveland's downtown stadium is a great place to watch and enjoy the game of baseball. Marked by distinctive toothbrush-shaped light standards and set to the beat of a dedicated drummer, "The Prog" recently took first in Sports Illustrated's Stadium Fan Survey. Follow the jump for tips and tricks on how to watch the Indians like a true Clevelander.

(To submit tips on your home ballpark, e-mail 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com. Any and all insight and info is greatly appreciated.)

Facts and figures (More at Ballparks.com)

Address: 2401 Ontario Street Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Opened: 1994

Capacity: 43,345

Cost: $175 million

Dimensions: Left field: 325 ft.; left-center: 370 ft.;center field: 405 ft.; right-center: 375 ft.; right field: 325 ft.; foul territory: small

Biggest moment: Indians defeat Braves 7-6 in Game 3 of the 1995 World Series, marking first Fall Classic game in Cleveland since 1954.

Quick fact: The original plan for Cleveland's new stadium called for a dome. It was rejected by voters.

How to get there

"The stadium isn’t located too far from the major highways, and there is plenty of parking available, so driving is definitely an option.  If you choose to avoid the parking fees (typically $10-$25), the Rapid Transit can get you downtown and back for about three dollars plus about a three-block walk." — Scott Sargent, Waiting For Next Year 

"Parking prices vary from around $5 to $25 and will change depending upon the day of the game (higher on the weekends) and the opponent (always jacked up for games when the Boston and New York “fans” who actually grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland show up). I generally park at a lot between Bolivar and Prospect, just west of East 9th street, that has two levels and offers a quick walk to the game or to local establishments prior to the game with the price varying from $7 to $20.

Big Ballpark Review
AL EAST    NL EAST
Baltimore   Atlanta
Boston   Florida
N.Y. Yankees   N.Y. Mets
Tampa Bay   Philadelphia
Toronto   Washington
AL CENTRAL   NL CENTRAL
Chi. White Sox   Chi. Cubs
Cleveland   Cincinnati
Detroit   Houston
Kansas City   Milwaukee
Minnesota   Pittsburgh
AL WEST   St. Louis
L.A. Angels   NL WEST
Oakland   Arizona
Seattle   Colorado
Texas   L.A. Dodgers
    San Diego
    San Francisco 

"The boys at Mistake by the Lake Sporting Times did a comprehensive breakdown of parking lots in terms of cost and distance that is absurdly exhaustive. While some of the prices may be outdated, the guide provides a nice thumbnail sketch of where to hone in on a lot and where to avoid. "  — Paul Cousineau, Let's Go Tribe! 

"Don't go on the same night as a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game. The roads are very, very crowded because the stadiums are adjacent to each other." — Baller8184198 

Before and after the game 

"Two of the pregame favorites for Indians fans include Panini’s and The Clevelander.  They’re located next to one another and both feature outside seating and beer tub girls. If you want a good mix of food and drink, there's the Winking Lizard, directly across the street from Panini’s. All in all, everything can be done within about a five minute walk of the stadium. Not bad at all." — S.S.

"If you’re more inclined to just fill up on a liquid dinner, Local Heroes is right across the street from the entrance of Jacobs Field and always provides a raucous atmosphere before and after ballgames as does the Thirsty Parrot, which is just across Bolivard and boasts an outdoor deck that fills up quickly, particularly after weekend games." — P.C.

"Also be sure to check out the Bob Feller Statue (left) at the East 9th Street entrance and marvel at the career numbers of Rapid Robert on the base of the statue, made more incredible that he didn’t pitch for three years (when he would have been 23, 24, and 25 years old) because he was serving his country in WWII." — P.C. 

"Coming from the south I highly recommend Quaker Steak and Lube. Especially on All You Can Eat Tuesdays. Best wings in town. (Try the Buckeye BBQ or the Golden Garlic!) There are plenty of watering holes at The Flats, just west of downtown."  — Rick Grayshock, Waiting For Next Year

"Downtown Cleveland isn't the best place to be at night, but you can definitely make a day of hanging out near the park before a night game. Of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is nearby, and it's a must-visit for any fan or non-fan of music. But how can you be a non-fan of music, really?" — Jeff Lutz 

"Make sure to visit the Tribe Hall of Fame behind the center field wall." — R.G.

What to eat

"If you are looking for the best bargain food at the park, go for the Slider platter. He's the big furry purple mascot, and they made a 4 mini-burger plate with fries for only $7 to 'honor' him. Your gain trust me. There is enough to split." — R.G. 

"Key items in the park include the Indians “I-shaped” soft pretzels and the “dollar dogs.”  Bear in mind that the “dollar” part of this is a promotional item that only occurs about a dozen times per season — and there is a maximum of six per transaction!  The top condiment for both the pretzels and the dogs is the Bertman’s Stadium Mustard — laced with Cleveland history." — S.S.

" I stick to the tried and true super nachos. How good is life when you're watching major league baseball and the biggest decision you have to make all day is whether to dip a chip in cheese or salsa? Wash that down with a soft frozen lemonade on a hot day and your breath will smell delicious, even as it's being held during a Joe Borowski save opportunity." — J.L.

"Make sure you grab a Strickland's Ice Cream cone — an Akron original that made it's way to the stadium because it is outstanding." — R.G. 

Where to sit

"For the price, the lower reserved seats are great.  Located in either left field or right field, wrapping around the dugouts, these seats are half the price of the field box and you are still on the field." — S.S.

"For the most bang for your buck, I’ll take the seats in the mezzanine ($18 advanced, $20 gameday) in RF, or the Bleachers ($16 advanced, $18 gameday) in LF for unobstructed views in good seats at reasonable prices. If you end up in the bleachers, be sure to say hello to John Adams, who has been sitting at Indians’ games, banging the drum (literally) for the Tribe since 1973." — P.C. 

"To me, nothing beats section 101, right next to the Indians' bullpen in center field. It's where a young male fan can get a "What's Up?" head nod from Rafael Betancourt and check out the gorgeous women who have only a proposal to Sizemore in mind. I know from experience. Spending a certain amount of money in the Indians' Team Shop used to get you free tickets to Section 101, but no matter how fresh you looked in your new Tribe gear, the ladies wouldn't turn their eye from Grady." — J.L.  

"Lower deck, first base side. I love that view. My second favorite spot with a good price point is mezzanine. The bleachers are overrated." — Jason Ditzel

"The cheapest seats (right field, upper deck) had poor views." — Allen Wolfe 

"Spend a little extra money — don't go for the cheapest tickets. I sat in the $7 section and was severely disappointed. The view was actually exceptional, but it washighly populated with college students who go to the games and sit there texting each other, yelling across the stadium and only paying attention to the game when Grady Sizemore is at bat." — Baller 

Misc.

"On Sunday, the plaza between Progressive Field and The Q (where the Cleveland LeBrons play) is filled with all sorts of kid-related activities to entertain the youngsters to wear them out before the game starts so they’re not antsy and wanting to walk around the park." — P.C.

"Bring the sunscreen. Most of the seats catch a good share of the sun, making for a warm afternoon of summer baseball." — Jeff Arnold, Ann Arbor, Mich. 

"The parking garage across from Jacobs Field doubles as a cheap motel." — A.W. (Editor's note: Posted for humor only, tip NOT recommended)

"After years of trudging down to the lakefront to the dilapidated Municipal Stadium, I remember Clevelanders’ reaction upon entering (what was then) Jacobs Field. It was a feeling of “are we still in Cleveland?” as everything gleamed like new and shined brightly in a city not used to bright, shiny things. Even 15 years later, that luster has not dulled as the park remains a jewel of the city and the delightful experience of going to a baseball game downtown on a beautiful summer night still holds that special spot in my heart." — P.C.

"It's hard not to like the Jake." — R.G. 

"Top to bottom — or toothbrush-shaped lights to the MTD-cared grass — Progressive Field really is the greatest stadium to catch a game. Easy access to and from the park and, most of all, it's also affordable.

And if by chance you do not get to see a win, the one thing that you can count on seeing is the saxophone player at the corner of Huron and E. 4th.  He may only play Take Me Out to the Ballgame and the theme from The Simpsons, but he has nicer Indians gear than most fans and he’s always down to entertain!" — S.S.

"When the Indians are on their way to a sure playoff appearance, you can talk to anyone in the stadium about how C.C. Sabathia's Hall of Fame bust will necessitate an inordinate amount of bronze. When the team is struggling, the discussion turns to the boneheads in the front office that gave Travis Hafner a four-year contract. No matter how the team is playing, being at Progressive Field means being with your people. You can turn to anyone for a high-five after Bill Selby hits a walkoff grand slam against Mariano Rivera and know they're experiencing the exact same child-like giddiness you are. I'm sure it's that way in every stadium, but to me there's nothing like being at the Jake. Yes, The Jake." — J.L.

Have an insider's tip for Progressive Field that you didn't see listed here? E-mail it with your name and home town to 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com for possible inclusion in the post.

Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review will run all summer and feature all 30 MLB ballparks. We welcome reviews for any ballpark. To do so, visit this post for submission guidelines.

Related Articles

Big League Stew

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog