Can you guess the team that has retired a number that is associated with their stadium? If you guessed the Cleveland Guardians (formerly known as the Indians prior to the 2022 season) and the number 455, you are correct! Coupled with a successful team and one of the newest ballparks in baseball, for 455 straight games between 1995 and 2001 the Indians sold out every game at what was then known at Jacobs Field. Before the 1994 season a sellout was rare as the Guardians played at the cavernous Cleveland Municipal Stadium along Lake Erie. For over six decades the Guardians played here, usually in front of a sparse crowds. In 1985 David and Richard Jacobs purchased the Indians in an effort to develop a winning franchise as they had been one of the worst clubs in baseball, but to also have a new ballpark constructed.
The Gateway Economic and Development Committee was established to build a new sports complex for the Guardians and Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA). In May 1990 voters approved a bond for construction of a new ballpark and arena. Located in downtown Cleveland, construction began in 1992 and was built as part of an urban renewal project that also includes the arena, parking garages and landscaped plazas. Architecturally the ballpark blends in with downtown Cleveland; from its exposed steel design, that matches many bridges on the North coast and the vertical light towers, that match the smokestacks of Cleveland’s industrial zone and the high-rise office buildings in downtown Cleveland.
Originally known as Jacobs Field, the Cleveland Guardians played their first game here on April 4, 1994 against the Seattle Mariners. The ballpark once held over 43,000 fans but today has a capacity of over 35,000 and is named Progressive Field. Fans can enter the ballpark from one of many entry gates, but many enter through the Gate C entrance in centerfield. Revamped after the 2014 season, this area connects the ballpark with downtown Cleveland. It contains Heritage Park that consists of the Guardians Hall of Fame and statues of Cleveland greats, Bob Feller and Jim Thome. In left field is the 19 foot high outfield wall, nicknamed the mini Green Monster, with a new 59 feet high by 221 feet wide HD video/scoreboard (installed before the 2016 season) directly above bleachers. Three tiers of stands extend from the left field foul pole to homeplate and around into right/center field. Prior to the start of the 2015 season the upper deck seating in right-center field was removed and replaced with terrace areas for group seating. This decreased the seating capacity from 43,405 to 35,041. Below the upper deck, a two-story corner bar, features 40 tap beers providing fans with a bar with a view. The Market Pavilion, featuring neighborhood themed establishments including Dynomite Burgers, Great Lakes Brewing Company and Sweet Moses is also here. Tiered bullpens are in right-center field. Before the 2016 season, the Indians completed the second phase of their renovation project at Progressive Field. This included building a new enclosed club behind homeplate on the main level of the ballpark that features a glass front for viewing games. To provide views of the action on the field, the main concourse was opened from homeplate to left field, so fans never lose sight of the game.
In February 2022 the Guardians announced plans to significantly renovate Progressive Field. At a cost of $200 million, the project will begin following the 2022 season and includes creating an open concourse throughout the upper deck, expansion and upgrading the left-field seating area, modifying the seating areas in the right-field upper deck, new seating directly behind homeplate, and upgrading the clubhouse and administration buildings.
For 13 seasons the ballpark was named Jacobs Field, often referred as “The Jake”. In 2008, the naming rights were sold to Progressive Insurance for $3.6 million/year for 16 years, thus receiving its current name, Progressive Field. Progressive Field has provided the city with many great memories including hosting the 1997 and 2019 All-Star Games and the World Series in 1995, 1997 and 2016. The Guardians success during the mid to late 1990s led to 455 consecutive sellouts at the ballpark from June 12, 1995 to April 4, 2001.