2014 Reds / Behind Enemy Baselines / The Nation Reports

Behind Enemy Baselines: Progressive Field

[Editors: This post was written by Seth and Natalie Coyle. Despite opposite rooting interests for four games of the year, Seth and Natalie love going to plenty of Reds games (home and road), the experience of the ballpark and of course the Scoreboard Stumper. Thanks for reporting back to the Nation! — spm]

What happens when two Ohio U grads, one from Cleveland and one from Cincinnati get married?  Life becomes the never-ending Battle of Ohio. While we live in Cincinnati and both love the Reds, we make the trip north for a few Indians games each season, and the Tribe-Reds showdown is always a great time!

Welcome to Progressive Field Home of…the infamous “midge attack” on the Yankees, the “Glory Days” of the late 90’s, listening to The Boss after home wins and Cleveland Rocks, Rock and Roll all Night, etc.

On our way in we had to check out the new statue unveiled this week in honor of Jim Thome, one of baseball’s “good guys”. The statue is extremely impressive and is said to be placed in the exact spot of Thome’s longest HR in his Indian’s career—it’s a looooong way from home plate.

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Going to the game with my Tribe loving in-laws began with a friendly debate over the merits of Omar Vizquel heading to the HOF.  I declined to be swayed to the majority opinion. One thing that wasn’t up for pre-game debate was the recent run Corey Kluber has been on vs the post All Star Break results of the Reds offense. If both sides held to form, it wasn’t going to be pretty for the Redlegs.  So I took the glimmer of hope I had with my Eric the Red jersey and took our seats in RF.

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The crowd was fairly small for an intrastate matchup with perfect weather. However, the Reds had plenty of fans in attendance, the majority sitting down the first base side. The game itself held to our expectations, with Kluber dominating the Red’s lineup, (especially the bottom half) as Simon continued his 2nd half struggles.

Quote of the Night (In honor of RLN comments of the night):  Goes to my brother-in-law, after viewing former Indian Jack Hannahan as the Reds’ DH “Having Hannahan DH is like having Shaq shoot technical free throws.”  For the record, that was Hannahan’s eighth DH appearance in 593 career games.

If you are heading up to Tuesday’s game, or planning on a trip to Cleveland soon, here are some great spots to check out in and around the ballpark.

Pre/Post Game

Craft Beer: Great Lakes Brewing Company, West 25th and Market. The restaurant and brewery offers a full menu in the dining room, as well as a brewpub in the basement with selections only available on-site. You can park near GLBC and take their “Fatty Wagon” to all Indians home games – free for customers, $1 for non-customers.

Craft Beer Runner Up: Market Garden Brewery, West 25th. Their beers are delicious, but I go for the beer cocktails which are creative and delicious concoctions. I happen to think the “beer cocktail” will be the next big thing, and this is a great place to try them out! Market Garden also has a shuttle to the games.

Want to Try Your Luck?:  Cleveland’s casino is located 2 blocks from the stadium, just north of the house LeBron owns at the Q. The Horseshoe Casino renovated the old Higbee’s department store, which is known from the movie The Christmas Story. If you like burgers, check out Michael Symon’s B-Spot for a great burger between cashing in your winnings.

For Foodies: East 4th St. dining/entertainment district, just a few blocks from the stadium. Here you will find a plethora of choices including restaurants from three of Cleveland’s most well known chefs (Greenhouse, Chef Jonathan Sawyer; Chinato, Zack Bruell; Lola Bistro, fine dining from Michael Symon). Choices also include more casual fare, comedy, live music at the House of Blues, and The Corner Alley with bowling and billiards.

Hole in the Wall: Johnny’s Little Bar, 614 Frankfort Ave. Look for Johnny’s restaurant on 6th, then duck down this sidestreet and into “Johnny’s Little” for a break from the mayhem of West 6th.

Cleveland Original: The Winking Lizard, multiple locations including one at the triangle of Huron and Prospect near East 9th. A selection of bar/pub fare ranging from wings to sandwiches to pizzas. On top of that, they offer over a great variety of over 300 beers. I wish we had one in the ‘Nati.

Cleveland Original/Late Night Eats: Panini’s, also multiple locations including one on West 6th and one on Huron (near the Winking Lizard). The menu primarily consists of sandwiches on fresh italian bread stacked high with deli meat, slaw, and French fries. They also serve delicious pizza. It’s just what you need to “put out the fire”.

Inside the stadium

“Your Dad’s Beer Stand” located near the end of the first base line, this stand offers a variety of classic budget beers such as PBR, High Life, Natural Light, and even Iron City (I have to question this choice). You can even get a bag of Andy Capp fries or Pork Rinds if that’s your thing.

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Need a break from the game, or looking for a great place to meet people? Head out to the party patio in centerfield. You will find numerous food and beer stands including an outdoor bar. This is a great area for mingling while you enjoy the game! There are plenty of food and beverage options along with picnic seating available here.

Progressive Field offers a wide variety of beers, including some local selections, these choices vary from stand to stand.

John Adams loyally beating his bass drum in the bleachers. What started out as a fun idea when Adams was only 21 years old has turned into an incredible tradition. Adams has missed only 38 home games in 40 seasons since 1973! He is the only fan to have his own bobblehead. Listen for his bass drum when the Indians are taking the field, have runners in scoring position, and when they have the lead in the top of the ninth. Great Lakes Brewing Company even brews a beer in Adams’ honor each season, the Rally Drum Red Ale, which is available in Cincinnati in April.

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Progressive Field, known as “The Jake” because it used to be named Jacobs Field, is a great place to watch a game. Opened in 1994, it was the second of the modern ballparks with old-fashioned styling, following Camden Yards. The field has great sight lines from most of the seats and easily accessible concourses throughout. It is frequently mentioned as a fan favorite in national polls.  We sat in right field and had a great view of the Reds’ Bullpen, the Jumbotron, and the game itself.

We have always had an enjoyable time at these games.  Having toured many ballparks throughout the Midwest and East Coast, this park is excellent.

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7 thoughts on “Behind Enemy Baselines: Progressive Field

  1. I have a cousin who lives in Cleveland. He and his wife both work at firms who have corporate seats to The Jake. Back in the day, when every game was sold out by January, my cousin would invite me for a Reds game or two. I lived in Ann Arbor back then and made the drive several times. What an exciting atmosphere.

    He took me to a game last year and the stadium was about half full. The experience was still great – thanks in no small part to his Club Seats – but it was an interesting comparison of what can happen to attendance over time when the team changes from being an annual contender for the World Series to one that isn’t.

    • Steve–thanks again for the opportunity to write for the blog, much appreciated.

      As for your thoughts on the Jake experience, I agree–the first game I went there was in 1999 vs a Royals team that still had Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran. It was a DH and about 95 degrees for the afternoon game–both games there wasn’t an empty seat to find whatsoever. The seats and atmosphere were awesome and have been a fan of the ballpark ever since

      Just casual observation, but a few things have stood out about the significant dip in attendance they have had over that time–primarily, as you mentioned falling out of annual contention being the biggest reason.

      In the mid 90’s, there were no more Browns, and the Cavs had moved from Richfield Coliseum to Gund/Q downtown. The Cavs also weren’t very good over that time period. The Tribe’s winning ways and young talent totally seized the market and entertainment $ at that time. Contrast that to present day with Johnny Football and the return of LBJ–and the Tribe are a distant 3rd in the hearts and minds of the sports scene there. The Reds have had a good run of being successful, having realized they compete vs. the Bengals for sports fans discretionary $$

      The other big thing I’ve noticed the last 2 years is the Indians ticket department’s strategy to pricing and selling tickets and the stark contrast to the Castellini family approach with the Reds. The pricing is completely different for tickets that I would consider to be “get in the door” type pricing. They have closed off over a dozen sections in the upper deck and don’t discount anything–instead going the opposite direction and forcing dynamic pricing on the sections they have open. I know my in-laws have gone from 20 game packs over the last 20 years, to being so frustrated with the pricing that they rarely go, despite being avid baseball fans. For instance, the Reds offered half price ticket promotion to tonights game $10 (a bobble head gm no less) whereas a comparable seat in the upper deck was $28 for Mondays game at Progressive. My wife & I have owned 20 game package at GABP for many yrs and the pricing, seats, flexibility and benefits from the Reds with the package are unmatched.

  2. I’ve been to a couple of those restaurants and second your recommendations. Panini’s is a fun, overly indulgent sandwich stop. If you’ve never had cole slaw and (good hand cut) french fries stuffed into your sandwich, give it a try. And I’ve been to Lola’s downtown once – had been to it’s original location several times. It’s typical, modern, upscale, loud, high energy, great food, urban eating.

  3. Seth, since you appear to be wearing the Eric Davis jersey in that picture, I will assume that you are the author of this post.

    First, excellent write-up. You made it sound like the Jake is a stadium I need to try to visit sometime.

    Second, you have a lovely wife, even if she may have been a Cleveland fan when you met! My wife was never a big baseball fan herself before we got together, but her father is a HUGE Cardinals fan, so we definitely have some spirited debates over at the in-laws’ house. I still can’t figure out why he likes Molina so much…

    Third, I hate that you had to see such a stinker of a game. Hopefully you guys went to the one last night as well, so that you got to see Cueto’s CG. At least your in-laws couldn’t rib you so much after that.

    Finally, tell your brother-in-law that his comment on Hannahan is the quote of the year for me. When I saw the lineup on Monday with him at DH, that was truly depressing. I will be using that line about Shaq to my friends, I hope he doesn’t mind.

    Go Reds!

    • DocMike-thanks for the feedback and kind words. Hopefully I’ll see a winner tonight at GABP to make up for Monday. I would definitely recommend the Jake as a great ballpark to visit if you are in the area. I’m extremely blessed to have the wife I do as well as her fun family. It’s always a great time talking sports and taking in a game with them–her brother is a funny dude, and he nailed the Hannahan comment

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