Home of the
Cleveland Indians for 61 years, fans of the team were ready to move
out of the "Mistake by the Lake" in 1993. The idea for a new stadium
in Cleveland was first mentioned in 1903. By the 1920s a 25,000
seat stadium was proposed. However, Osborn Engineering designed a
much bigger stadium that could house many activities. In 1928, a
$2.5 million bond was issued by the city to build the stadium. It
became the first stadium built using public
money. A landfill full
of old used cars and
tires near Lake Erie was chosen as the site for the
stadium. Groundbreaking was held on June 24, 1930. Constructed of
steel and concrete, the stadium became known as Lakefront Stadium.
The stadium was not constructed as an attempt to get the Olympics in
1932 because Los Angeles had already been chosen to host the games.
Lakefront Stadium was completed by July 1,
1931. The first event was held two days later. There was one problem
after the stadium opened, it had no baseball tenant. The Cleveland
Indians, playing at
League Park, were happy that a new stadium was being built.
the city did not sign the team to a lease before the stadium opened.
This allowed the Indians to negotiate a favorable lease. The first Cleveland Indians game at Lakefront Stadium was
on July 3, 1932. When the team stepped onto the field
players saw an enormous stadium. Lakefront Stadium had a capacity of 78,189.
The stadium consisted of a covered double-decked grandstand that extended from
behind homeplate, down and around the foul poles to an uncovered
section of bleachers in the outfield. There were 37,896 seats in the
lower level, 29,380 seats in the upper level and 10,913 bleacher
Lakefront Stadium became a pitchers park because of its size.
Original dimensions were 322 ft. (left and right), and 463 ft.
(center). The stadium also had lights, a sound system and a
scoreboard behind the bleachers in centerfield. Lakefront Stadium
also became home of the Cleveland Browns (NFL).
Initially, the Indians
attracted huge crowds to
Lakefront Stadium but that soon changed. Because of the size of the
stadium, when the Indians attracted only 20,000 fans, it looked as
the stadium was empty. The Indians played at the stadium full time
until the end of the 1933 season. From 1934 until 1946, the Indians
played at League Park during the weekdays and played at Lakefront
Stadium during the weekends and holidays. The lights that had been
installed when the stadium opened were never used for baseball.
Modern lights were installed in 1939 and the first night Indians
game was on June 27, 1939. After the 1946 season, the Indians moved
all of their games to Lakefront Stadium. Once the Indians made
Lakefront Stadium their permanent home it became known as Cleveland
Municipal Stadium. In an effort to make the stadium more hitter friendly, a fence was
erected in front of the outfield shortening the dimensions to 321
ft. (left and right) and 410 ft. (center). A standing room area was
behind this fence.
During the remainder of its existence as a
baseball stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium housed some very good
and bad teams as few changes took place. Two renovations occurred in 1967 and
1974 when the original wooden seats were replaced by plastic ones
and a new scoreboard replaced the old one. During the 1980s and
early 1990s the Indians were a terrible team and attendance was
low. In 1985, Richard and David Jacobs bought the Indians and
began to lobby for a new stadium. Voters approved a bond and a new
stadium for the Indians was built in downtown Cleveland. The last
Indians game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium was on October 3, 1993
and the team moved to
Progressive Field the following season. The Cleveland Browns (NFL)
played at the stadium until 1995. It was
demolished in November 1996 after the Browns moved Baltimore. A
new stadium for the new Cleveland Browns was built where Cleveland
Municipal Stadium was located.