The Cleveland Indians responded to years of declining attendance at Progressive Field this season by spending $26 million* to get rid of 7,000 seats, replacing them with a new sports bar, among other renovations to the now 20-year-old stadium. And if that sounds like it will make the stadium — which was much more hulking than its Cleveland Stadium predecessor, despite having 30,000 fewer seats — more intimate, you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up:
May I be the first to say “ew”?
The problem with the outfield upper deck at the Indians’ stadium, really, is with the deck below it: By making room for a wall of triple-decked luxury suites in the infield (and then not lowering the upper deck once it gets to the outfield, the Indians guaranteed that the top-level outfield seats would be a million miles from the action. That they’re now retrofitting that section with what look like beige shipping containers with retired numbers painted on them is just an indication that 1) stadiums designed with tons of corporate seating are really tough to retrofit for normal humans, and 2) the Indians management wants to leave room to reinstall seats in case the throngs who came to the games during the stadium’s initial eight-year honeymoon period somehow rematerialize.
*This is not actually $26 million in Indians money, of course, since the team just got well more than that in new county subsidies last year to pay for future renovations. Though I guess at least there’s some fitting symbolism in using the cash to set up a new bar, since local alcohol drinkers are going to be the ones paying for it.