CLEVELAND — The center- and right field areas of Progressive Field will have an entirely new look starting next season as the Indians detailed their plans to renovate the ballpark on Thursday.
The goal of the project is to create new attractions for multiple parts of the fan base and also celebrate the franchise’s history. The project, with support from Delaware North Companies, the team’s concessionaire, is completely privately funded. Indians president Mark Shapiro said during a news conference that a final figure should be known next month.
With the changes, the capacity of the ballpark will be reduced to 37-38,000. It currently seats 42,404
"We want the experience to be more compelling, we want more people to come to the ballpark," Shapiro said. "The reality is it is still about the team on the field first and foremost but the way fans watch games and the way they interact with games has changed and evolved. The way our kids watch games will be different in the next five, 10, 15 years."
Key parts of the project include:
* An expanded Kids Clubhouse, which will be expanded to two levels. The Mezzanine concourse area also will be renovated, with new and improved attractions for families that will include interactive games and games.
* A climate-controlled, two-story bar where the Bud Patio in right field currently exists with views of downtown.
* A new Gate C area will have more of a visual connection to the field and views of downtown from inside the ballpark. The Market Pavilion, Batter’s Eye Bar and bridge to the parking deck will be removed and the entrance will allow residents and downtown workers better views of the field.
* Both bullpens will be in center field where fans will be up close. The Indians’ bullpen has always been in center but the visiting bullpen was in right field. The area where the visiting bullpen currently resides will be part of the new bar.
* Popular Cleveland neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont will be incorporated into the new Gate C concourse in terms of attraction and food. Shapiro said as many as five neighborhoods will be featured.
* The Bob Feller and Jim Thome statues will be side by side in the new Gate C area and will be joined there by future statues — including one of Larry Doby next year. The Doby statue will be designed by Lakewood’s David Deming, who also did Thome’s.
* The Upper Reserved area in right field will become a flexible event space, featuring terraced decks for group sales and also standing room seating for bigger events like Opening Day and playoff games.
"When ballpark was built it was a one fan fits all experience. Viewing games has become a more targeted, segmented experience," Shapiro said.
These are the most extensive renovations to the ballpark, which opened in 1994. Besides what was announced on Thursday, concrete and HVAC work along with a new scoreboard will be done in future seasons. The funds for infrastructure work were approved in May when Cuyahoga County voters approved the extension of the sin tax.