Okay, this is a bit of a bait and switch. So before you chalk this up as yet another instance of Scene just hating on something popular for the sake of hating on something popular, or accusing us of wanting all of you off our lawn, just hear us out.
The Corner has become exactly what the Indians hoped it would be when they announced significant renovations to Progressive Field in the offseason between the 2014 and 2015 seasons that included not only a revitalization of the dead right outfield area but also a move for the bullpens and the installation of the shipping crate makeover in the upper deck. (Those crates, lordy ... .)
Responding to fan input and industry trends, the Indians constructed the two-story bar and standing-room area featuring a fire pit, a 40-tap system and plentiful TVs to cater to a segment of fans who desired more social spaces, cheap tickets and an atmosphere more Ohio City or Tremont-esque than a night at the ballpark with the parents. And they nailed it.
"I was standing on top of The Corner bar watching fans flow into the ballpark," a former Indians' marketing honcho told Crain's Cleveland last year about the area's success. "Seeing their expressions, their reactions to it, but also seeing that they gravitated to the areas we expected in ways that were natural — going to the drink rails, to the Corner bar."
"The Corner bar and District Ticket have been game-changers for us," said another VP.
In more PG-13-rated front office executive-ese, the team activated the shit out of right field in ways that Tyler Naquin could only dream of.
Five years after its inception, the Corner is a party, a place to see and be seen. It's a place to hang out, where beer-can pyramids rise toward the heavens and where, for most weekend and big-draw games, there's nary an empty spot along the ample drink rails — a testament to its enduring popularity.
But here's the thing: The Corner is a pretty terrible spot from which to actually watch a baseball game. Start with the sun, which will pound you into submission during late-day games and force you to essentially live with your hand as a visor, even if you've brought along a hat or sunglasses. Add in the fact that from the Corner you can't actually see the corner where the foul line meets the fence. Distractions? Aplenty here: people moving here and there; the jostling as your row grows ever more crowded; the conversations from those around you who are paying not one iota of attention to the on-field proceedings enveloping you like a demon white-noise machine. The view? Not great, Bob. You're about as far from the action as you can get.
The better option — not for everyone, of course, because a large swath of those walking through the gates sign up for exactly all that, and that's okay — is the left-field standing room area (separate in this case from the home run porch). How far below the radar does that side fly? There's not even a name for it. It's just the left-field standing room area. The team either has no interest in or no corporate motivation to brand that sucker. Which is just fine, because its anonymity is a boon to those who want a closer vantage point, sans sun glare, with a full view of the field, and compatriots who are way more likely to know the count (or the score, for that matter) at any given moment than 90 percent of the denizens out in the inferior standing-room area.
Maybe check it out, and enjoy it. — Brett Zelman