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Progressive Field

July 25, 2011

  • 2401 Ontario Street
  • Cleveland, OH 44115
  • (216) 420-4487
  • Website

I think we’ve made it pretty clear.  J and I are baseball fans.  Being from Chicago, most people assume we’re Cub fans.  If you’re one of those people, you just made an ass out of u.

We’re both White Sox fans.  J grew up on the south side and I grew up with a dad who is a White Sox fan.

Being a Sox fan in Michigan isn’t always fun.  Since they play in the same division as the Tigers, we put up with a lot of grief.  Of course, it’s fun when the Sox beat the Tigers, but it sucks when they lose…which happens more often (but not as I’m writing this, ironically.)

I’m fortunate to have a wife that enjoys baseball.  We’ve been to several games since we’ve moved to Michigan.  Mostly at Comerica Park which we both really like.  Earlier this year, we watched the Tigers beat up on our Sox at CoPa.

At the beginning of the season, I looked at the Sox schedule and penciled this weekend in for a road trip.  The Sox were playing in Cleveland and I have always wanted to go to The Jake….er….Progressive Field.  A few weeks ago, we made the decision to book a hotel and get tickets.

Since it was a day game, we got up just before 7:00 AM.  I work until midnight in Grand Rapids  so it was a very short night for me.  Still, this was something I wanted to do, so I didn’t complain too much. 

After a four hour trip that included a few pit stops, we pulled off of I-90 to find Progressive Field.  To make things even better, as soon as you get off I-90 at 9th Street, you come to Carnegie Street.  Our hotel was on Carnegie about a block from the stadium.

We were staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown.  Around 11:00, J called and asked if it would be possible for us to park there.  Check-in time wasn’t until 3:00 and we were going to get to town around noon.  The desk person at the hotel said it wouldn’t be a problem and if they had a room available, they’d let us check in early.  When we got there, a room was available and we were able to get in to our room before the game.  That was really exciting because parking around the stadium was $20 mostly in private lots as the stadium is right in downtown.  Parking at the hotel was going to cost us $16/night, so it was nice not having to pay both parking fees.

After checking out our room and admiring the stadium from the elevator lobby on the ninth floor (yes, we could see the stadium from the hotel), we headed across down Carnegie and across 9th to get in the stadium.

Our seats were in the bleachers and our tickets told us to enter through Gate A.  Well, Gate A would have required us to walk around the outside of the stadium, so we entered Gate C instead.  If we’re going to walk, we might as well see more of the stadium.  We were going to walk around anyway, so why do it twice?

Like I alluded to earlier, Progressive Field is one of the ballparks I’ve wanted to go to since it opened in 1994 at Jacob’s Field.  Pretty much any park that opened of New Comiskey in 1990 has been on my list.  Like the home of my beloved White Sox, The Jake underwent a name change in 2008 when insurance company Progressive, which is headquartered in a Cleveland suburb, bought the naming rights.  Just like The Cell, most fans stick to the original name of Jacob’s Field or the more common The Jake.  Also like The Cell, fans have shortened the corporate name to “The Prog”….just doesn’t have the ring to it that “The Jake” does.

The layout of Progressive Field sets up two main walkways for fans.  There’s an outer walkway that goes all the way around the park.  This is where you find a majority of the concession stands and gift shops.  The inner aisleway is the access to seating area.  The walkway comes to a grinding halt behind home plate where there are more seats and fans with out tickets are prohibited from entering.

The ballpark was designed by HOK which has it’s hand in a number of athletic venues around the country.  It was built in conjunction with Quicken Loans arena which you can see from the outfield gates.  The ballpark was designed with the Retro-Modern design that started with Camden Yards in Baltimore.  One of the cool features is the toothbrush shaped light towers that can be seen from almost anywhere in downtown Cleveland.

Our first task was to find food.  We had only had gas station breakfast when we left Kalamazoo, so we were both pretty hungry.  The concession stands carry a number of pretty standard ballpark items.  Hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos are available at almost every stand.  Some of the more unique items are a Subway, yes an overpriced Subway with six-inch sandwiches costing $7.00, and a Food Network stand that has a couple of gourmet sandwiches. There’s even a craft beer stand that sells Great Lakes Brewing Commodore Perry IPA for $19 for a 22 oz. glass.  Yes!  $19!

J was in the mood for a hot dog, but I saw a stand for chicken wings.  She decided to walk over with me before getting in line to get a dog.  Bad move for her.

The chicken wing stand was operated by Cleats which is actually a Cleveland chain.  We waited in line for quite a while.  That was going to be a recurring theme.  Concession stands were SLOOOOOOOOOOOOW.  Very slow.  As we were standing in line, J decided to just order from there.  I ordered the 5-Wing meal which came with waffle fries and a medium drink for $13.  The wings I got were Canjun which means they had a dusting of Cajun spices.  These wings were damn good.  They were big, meaty wings with a very heavy spice layer.  They were a little hot, but not overwhelming and much easier to eat on the go than traditionally sauced wings would have been.  The waffle fries came on top of the wings and weren’t much more than typical waffle fries with a little salt.  I was very happy with my choice of meal.  The portion size was pretty good…..not $13 good, but I didn’t walk away hungry.

J went with what she thought would be a good meal.  She got the chicken sandwich, a side of Cajun waffle fries and a bottle of water.  Because she didn’t get a pop, everything was run up separately and it came out to about $17.  Yes, our meal of fried food at a baseball game cost a little over $30.

I had a bad feeling when I saw how the chicken was served.  They were keeping it warm in a steamer tray full of water.  The person making the sandwich would pull out a breast and hold it over the water to let the excess drip off.  It was then put on a food service white bun with a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato.  J said it was pretty disgusting and only took a couple bites before throwing it away.  I didn’t realize what she was doing or I would have stopped her.  For as much as that cost, I would have chocked it down, but she said it was that bad.

As we got our food, the lady running the register forgot both her water and her fries.  In fact, when I asked about the fries, she had to pull the credit receipt out of the cash drawer to make sure we ordered it.  Sure enough, we did and it took another five minutes for a bag of fries seasoned with the same Cajun spices that were on my fries.  I think she liked these, but the heat was starting to get to her and she had such a bad experience with the chicken that I think it ruined the whole experience.

After getting food, we were about ten minutes from game time, so we headed to our seats in the bleachers.  On a non-hot day, these seats would be great.  They were pretty cheap and I personally love sitting in the bleachers.  We were two sections over from John Adams (yes, this dude has his own Wikipedia page), the rabid Indians fan who gets the crowd going with his bass drum from his seats in the bleachers.

It was a very hot day in Cleveland.  Very hot.  The temperature was in the low 90’s and the dew point was in the low 70’s.  We were both sweating after just a few minutes from standing in the sun.  I was fine with it, but J was having a hard time.  She was winded by the time we got to our seats and I was really worried for a while because she didn’t look good.  Her pregnant body (oh, have I mentioned yet that she’s pregnant) was not up for a hot day in the bleachers.  She drank her bottle of water very quickly and she bought a lemon slushee from an overworked vendor who couldn’t take more than two steps without getting stopped for one of his cool, delicious treats, but the heat was two much.  After the second inning, we headed back down the bleachers and watched the next four innings from underneath the concourse along the third base side.  We picked up two more bottles along the way…which took almost a whole inning to get.  Again, very, very slow concession stands.  The move to the concourse was a good one.  It was a good fifteen degrees cooler, but we had to stand.  Fortunately, no one gave us any flack for standing and we were able to enjoy most of the game before standing just became too much.  We were able to watch Adam Dunn actually put a ball in play….it turned into a two run error.

Once the Sox had the lead, we decided to head back to the hotel and watch the rest of the game on TV.

I am so happy we finally got to go to Cleveland for a ball game.  We had been talking about since we moved to Lansing in 2009, but never made the time.  A few years ago, we went to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, but couldn’t make it to a game as well.  I love the location.  I’m a big fan of urban ball parks.  They just make the whole experience more enjoyable.  I was really excited we got such a great hotel for a good price right down the street.  We ran in to some other Sox fans in the lobby and hallways which always makes for good elevator conversation.  As far as comparisons go, I still like Comerica better, but I Progressive will most definitely be another road trip weekend for us in the future.

View from our Hotel

Cleats Wings

Cajun Wings and Waffle Fries from Cleats

View from our seats in the bleachers

View from where we stood on the concourse

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