Progressive Field, previously Jacob’s Field or “The Jake,” in downtown Cleveland has been home to the Guardians (previously known as the Indians) since 1994. The variety of high-quality local concessions, superb Hall of Fame included, and unique Kids Zone were the highlights of this ballpark. The retro-modern design – featuring tall white lights and an open view of the Cleveland skyline – was beautiful. Fans were enthusiastic and provided a lively atmosphere for the games, especially during the hot dog derby. This was our first time in Cleveland and there were plenty of fun activities to explore in the surrounding area, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, East 4th, the Flats, and craft breweries.
Architecture and Layout
The exterior stone is a beautiful, light tan color (presumably limestone) and reminded us of San Diego’s Petco Park. The white overhang on the top provides shade and looks cool from afar. The white, vertical lights look neat from the exterior and interior. The design blends well with Cleveland’s surrounding industrial area and the Hope Memorial Bridge.
There’s a bridge labeled “Lite Brewed in Ohio” that connects the parking garage to the left field gate.
There are five quite steep levels of seating. The angle isn’t quite as sharp as Houston but still quite steep. The upper level has an overhang that provides shade and looks cool from the center field entrance.
The stadium features a nice view of the Cleveland skyline through center field, with beautiful sunsets and fireworks for night games. You can see the Guardians of Traffic – giant pillars which serve as the team’s namesake – on the Hope Memorial Bridge from the upper level concourse. I wish this was visible from the seats.
Depiction of Team and City History
There are a plethora of statues throughout. At the center field entrance there are statues of Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, and Larry Doby. There’s a statue of Jim Thome in the center field Heritage Park. Jim Thome’s home run plaque, which marks the longest homer ever hit at the stadium, is a fun find behind the left-center bleachers. The Heritage Park (see below under Amenities) includes lots of Indians/Guardians legends’ history, including a statue of Frank Robinson in the middle. Retired numbers and milestone flags are displayed in upper right field. There are milestone banners along the concourse and player-specific banners line the outside of the stadium. There are milestone year plaques outside the center field entrance. There’s unique artwork of players throughout the concourse and on the outside of the stadium.
Functionality Including Ease of Getting Around and Accessing Main Area
The main concourse was extremely crowded at the center field entrance due to multiple concessions being sandwiched in the middle, The Corner hangout area, and special food discounts for concessions blocking the flow of traffic. Thanks to the dollar hot dog night, $2 pregame beer, and the nearby St. Louis Cardinals visiting, it was the perfect storm for large crowds. The games had some of the highest attendance of recent history, so they were more crowded than typical.
The walkway behind the bleachers is very narrow and crowded. There weren’t very many TVs in the concourses to follow the action. You could only walk around the entire main level, which may seem obvious, but it’s not the case at a few stadiums.
The second to fourth levels have party suites so limited access (other than Kids Zone on 2). We tried to get to the other areas but couldn’t – Club tickets are required.
They have several long, gently sloping ramps that we would not recommend using (they take forever). The escalators and stairs are your best bet, though it seemed like the escalators only went up, even toward the end of the game.
Scoreboard Visibility and Style
The video board was massive, and one of the best we’ve seen. They did unfortunately use a large portion of the sides for ads. The team lineups were angled on either side, which is the first board we’ve seen do that. It skewed the wording a bit so kind of made it harder to read. We also thought they didn’t make the text big enough for the screen size so it was hard to read. All the fan activities showcased on the board were easy to see.
Vicinity to Fun Activities, Restaurants and Venues
The stadium is right next to Hope Memorial Bridge which has the “Guardians of Traffic” on both ends. You can get a unique and gorgeous view of the stadium and bridge from the Cuyahoga River. We rode a friend’s boat along the river and checked out the hopping Flats area along the way.
Fans recommended checking out bars and restaurants along East 4th. We tried Mabel’s BBQ, where I really enjoyed the fatty brisket. The ambience was very pleasant with beautiful flowers and lots of fans enjoying their meals on the outdoor patios. This is also near to the Tower City Center, a mixed-use shopping/restaurant/entertainment center. The Terminal Tower I think is the most uniquely designed tower in the city.
Fans think the local food stands within the stadium don’t do those restaurants justice. They recommended checking out the primary locations of Fat Head, Barrio, and The Melt – all within 20 minutes drive of the stadium. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to check these out but tried Great Lakes Brewery and Hofbrauhaus.
We walked along Euclid and Prospect to the game. Euclid looked really nice and reminded us of Chicago with tall buildings/restaurants on each side.
The Rocket Mortgage Field House is right next to the stadium and hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers and Monsters.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is about a 20 minutes walk (4 minute drive) from the stadium, and was a rockin’ experience.
Ease to Reach
It’s close to major highways. Both Uber and Lyft recommended getting picked up from Erie and E 9th but there was no signage and we didn’t see any other fans using it. We didn’t have any problem getting either but be mindful of surge pricing after popular games.
There is a train station nearby but not sure if people were using it. It seemed like most people drove.
Parking Availability and Cost
Fans recommended cheap and easy parking by the Fire Museum, catty corner to the stadium, underneath I-90. The $20 Gateway East garage was also recommended as easy to park in with direct bridge access to the park.
The players’ parking lot is at the corner of Carnegie and East 9th. Fans said you can sometimes catch an autograph.
Safety of Surrounding Area
We walked around a lot and didn’t see any areas that looked unsafe.
Food Quality and Originality
We happened to go on a special promo night with $1 hotdogs and $2 Miller Lite beers. Of course, we had to experience the chaos and long lines for cheap eats. We weren’t sure where all the offerings were so we joined the lines by center field. We discovered they were offering them at other locations, so we recommend meandering a bit to find a shorter line that offers hot beers and hotdogs in a less congested area.
Bertman’s mustard is what all the fans recommended we try on hot dogs or pretzels. We tried it on our $1 hotdog and a pretzel from Guardians Pretzel Haus. Unfortunately the dog was not great (close to an uncooked hotdog), but the mustard was decent. I’m not a huge fan of spicy mustard so it was a little overpowering for me. The German pretzel was fresh and the best pretzel we’ve had at a ballpark. We preferred the cheese dip over the mustard. We also tried Bertman’s at Great Lakes Brewery and had a similar experience. I think it’s probably a nostalgia thing (like Imos for St. Louis natives).
A fan recommended the pulled pork loaded nachos about 2/3 of the way down the first base side. I love loaded nachos (my favorite food at Busch) so had to try these. I’m not sure we found this particular nacho stand but there were lots of loaded nacho options. After scoping them all out, we tried the Barrio ballpark nachos with corn tortilla chips, queso, pico, corn salsa, salsa verde, chipotle cream, and added chicken for $15. They were loaded with flavor and the chips were crispy. We also tried the Momocho loaded nachos with pulled pork and all the toppings. The flavor combo was excellent and the chips tasted very fresh. We might have overdone the sauces because the bottom chips got soggy. The jalapeños also tasted home canned. The chip and topping quality of the nachos here is top notch and better than Busch.
The Perry’s “Doughing, Doughing, Gone!” waffle cone featuring chocolate cookie dough ice cream with crushed cooke swirls and cookie dough pieces was very unique, and the best ice cream we’ve had at a ballpark.
The sheer number of local restaurant options was amazing, and the quality was much higher than typical ballpark fare. We were really impressed with the food.
Beverage Quality and Variety
Fans recommended the Great Lakes Rally Drum and Fat Head’s Brewery beers. One fan said if anyone tells you Great Lakes beer is better than Fat Head’s beer, they’re lying to you – lol! The Fat Head Bumble Berry was quite unique with subtle blueberry flavor and included blueberries with the drink. The Fat Head’s Goggle Foggle Hefeweizen was a good German-style beer. We tried the Great Lakes Crushworthy and Watermelon Crushworthy at their brewery. Both breweries were good, but I’d have to agree that the Fat Head’s is better.
Overall Value for the Money
The $15 District Ticket gets you a standing room only ticket with a beer included. We tried to get this but it appears it may have been sold out. Both games we went to were packed (including standing room) so they probably were sold out.
On Friday there is a $2 Miller Lite happy hours, 1 hour before first pitch. They also offered this on Saturday. We drank a lot of cheap beer! Take note of the accepted payment before hopping in the long line – some are cash only.
Available Suites and Special Areas Included
Heritage Park Hall of Fame (HOF) in center field (just past the bleachers near the bullpen) is free to visit with a ticket to the game. It includes a HOF circle with player plaques and a Frank Robinson statue in the middle. There’s a wall for the Indians’ top 100 players.
Near the right field foul pole area you can get in line for a field view from the old bullpen for an inning. The lines seemed really long so we didn’t get to check this out, but it may have just been overflow congestion from the sold out District/Corner area instead of fans who were actually queued.
Speaking of, The Corner in right field is apparently the place to hang out to eat and drink. It was extremely crowded with very limited field visibility if you aren’t along a rail.
Fans recommended the Terrace Club for AC and all-you-can eat food for $26.50 (on Mon-Thu) or $35 (Fri-Sun). They look like 6 glass pods that project out on the third base side. These have to be an amazing experience. The entire third and fourth levels along with part of the second level are dedicated to suites. Only fans with tickets can gain access to these areas.
There’s a Louisville Slugger bat-making station on the main concourse.
The Kids Zone is top notch with a slide, craft area, and hot corner. We thought the location was phenomenal as it’s integrated with several second level seats to allow parents to easily access it. They have a unique sensory room for kids that need a break from the noise. We tried the 360 Experience and had a blast goofing around. There’s also a kids batting cage, running lane, and mini baseball field. The wide range of family activities available was better than the majority of stadiums.
Restroom Quantity and Quality
The restrooms were pretty standard and plentiful. We didn’t run into any lines, despite the crowds.
Seating Comfort (including leg space and ease to reach)
The upper level seats were pretty basic, without much leg room for tall people and no cup holders.
Team Store and Museum Inclusion and Quality
The main team store was very busy and a decent size. They had a few smaller stores throughout the stadium. The HOF within Heritage Park is free (see above).
Overall Atmosphere (including music, sound and fan activities)
The hot dog derby race in the 5th inning was pretty silly but the crowd really got into it. Angry Bird and Slider joined the fun.
They had the following activities on video board: cap dance, match game with a fan, lucky row giveaway, and spot the Chick-Fil-A cow in the stands.
The blindfolded BBQ eating contest between St. Louis and Cleveland fans was the most I have ever laughed at a game. The Cleveland fans stopped and just watched BBQ get smeared all over the St. Louis fan’s jersey. Of course the STL fan was angry when they lost even though Cleveland hadn’t eaten any. I’m guessing it was staged but was still hilarious.
The sound system was pretty loud. They played a mix of organ music, popular songs, and live music. They had a stage setup, which they had a live band perform before the firework show. They played Cleveland Rocks by Presidents of the United States of America (PoTUSA) at the end after they won. They also played OHIO and fans raised letters during the song. There was a special intro video for the closer Emmanuel Clase.
There was an amazing ensemble that played in the concourse.
Fan Enthusiasm and Friendliness
The fans were quite enthusiastic and the stadium was packed. When they scored with the bases loaded, everyone stood. They went crazy with Amed Rosario’s bases-clearing double.
They sang “Jose, Jose, Jose” to the chant of “Ole, Ole, Ole” after Jose Ramirez got a hit. The fans also got the wave going.
The fans were pretty friendly and no one haggled us for being Cards fans. We did ask quite a few fans questions about how to get to things and unfortunately many didn’t have a clue. I’m guessing the cheap concessions drew in a lot of the fair-weather fans.
Integration of Franchise History in Game
There wasn’t a lot of franchise history incorporated into the video board activities.
Slider, a pink furry creature, is the mascot. He waved the Guardians flag at the end of the game after their win. He was also involved in the hot dog derby race and walked around on the dugout to rally fans.
Celebration of Monumental Moments
They shot off fireworks for home runs and victories. They had a cute display of 3 ducks on a pond when the bases were loaded.
Summary & Scoring
Date Visited: May 26 & 27, 2023
Game Played: Cardinals 3, Guardians 4 & Cardinals 2, Guardians 1 – Both teams have been struggling and it was a good matchup. The Cardinals almost made a comeback on the 26th and won in the 10th inning on the 27th. Donovan carried the offense in this game. Boxscore-May 26, Boxscore-May 27
Design: – 5 steep levels, limestone exterior, bridge to parking garage, massive video screen, beautiful skyline for sunsets/fireworks, limited access to levels 2-4
Location: – near Rocket Mortgage Field House, Rock & Roll HOF, East 4th St., Flats, craft breweries
Concessions: – huge variety of local options, amazing food quality
Amenities: – free Heritage Park HOF, unique old bullpen experience, crowded hang out areas, great Kids Zone
Culture: – silly hot dog derby race, dancing condiments, lively crowd
Overall: – The variety of high-quality local concessions, great HOF inclusion and unique Kids Zone were the highlights of this ballpark. Nice retro-modern design with steep levels and limited access to multiple levels. Fans were enthusiastic, and provided a lively atmosphere for the games. Plenty of fun activities in the surrounding area.