Friday, April 30, 2010

Indians Pondering Progressive Field Jacobs Field Makeover

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 2:24 PM


Take a gander around Jacobs Field this season and mentally compare it to how you remember our darling ballfield back in the day.

The obvious difference: yeah, the fans are gone. And it's not just the regular Joe's, but the corporate bigwigs, too. Suites are empty, as you could have guessed by the Indians converting one on the first base side to a "Man Cave" for regular fans. All those suites, once filled with economically well-off Clevelanders (yes, they once existed), are empty now, and there's little to no chance the Tribe will be selling any more during the season than they have already.

Other differences are minor and have been unfolding over time: new sponsors in new locations (the Walgreen's sign on the left-field foul pole), the all-you-can-eat seats, the new Social Media deck, etc.

Jacobs Field is now 16-years-old, which isn't ancient by any means, but an age when some updating needs to be done, especially in an economic climate when no one's got money for the $7000 suites, when your team sucks and isn't drawing like it used to, and the team is trying to milk every penny it can from those that do want to come to ballgames still.

It turns out the Indians are one of a handful of teams that have contacted Populous, the firm that designed a few of the quintessential 90's era stadiums, to see what can be done to give the Jake a facelift.

The club levels at Camden Yards will get a second look because the corporate appetite for expensive suites has diminished. It hasn’t helped that the Orioles last had a winning record in 1997 and drew their smallest crowd ever at Camden Yards earlier this season.

The Orioles are not the only team thinking about makeovers. The Cleveland Indians, who opened Progressive Field in 1994 (it was Jacobs Field then), are among the 10 teams looking at ways to revive their parks, said Earl Santee, a senior principal at Populous, the architectural firm that designed Camden Yards, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Coors Field and other retro stadiums.

Seats, scoreboards and suites have a natural life, he said. The most recent ballparks are putting an emphasis on premium seats with access to exclusive restaurants, as well as food courts for fans sitting elsewhere. Camden Yards may need to reflect that.

That excerpt is from this New York Times piece about Camden Yards and the woman in charge of updating Baltimore's stadium. Good read, check it out.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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