The Cleveland Indians yesterday announced that construction has begun on another round of ballpark renovations to Progressive Field
. They look pretty great, right? Opening up the lower concourse walkways to add more dining options like the ones introduced in right field this year (we love food!) and beer (damn, beer is great!) and to allow for a more complete view of the stadium and game action from behind home plate. The details on that bit:
The Indians will construct a new club located on the ballpark's main level and behind home plate, providing great views of the action on the field.
The club will include a full bar, access to a variety of new concessions options within the space, a customer service center and a glass front for prime viewing. The club will remain open after games, to offer Season Ticket Holders with access to an option to let traffic clear on high-demand games.
The club also will significantly improve views of the field for all fans using the main concourse behind the home plate area.
There's nary a reason to believe that the Tribe's Top Men won't bring improvements to the concourse with these moves. The Corner Bar in right field, the additions of Melt and Barrio and the like, the open and welcome newly redesigned right field... it's all fantastic. You can't find someone to complain about that stuff.
What do we want to complain about?
Something many of you complained about when the park opened this spring. That would be the unofficial annex of the Cleveland port authority in the upper deck of right field. This isn't new, just something we've thought about as we saw the upper deck take shape through the winter from the warm confines of Scene's offices on Bolivar and as the season went on. Maybe the shipping crates would grow on us. Maybe attendance would bloom and the concrete concourses up there in the clouds would be used on packed warm weekends.
It's still bad. And with the exception of the home opener, we didn't see a soul up there. (The Indians only cracked 30,000 in attendance three times this season. The renovations in the upper deck removed about 7,000 seats.) And we have some logistical, open-ended questions about why it was done in the first place. (Remember, we love just about everything else the team's done to the stadium.)
First, are empty seats really that bad? Of course they are — that's money that's not being made and fans that aren't at the game cheering those hometown players on. But, if those people aren't showing up, seats aren't entirely bad to look at. And they're hardly more jarring or depressing than vinyl siding.
Why the shipping containers in the first place? If you remember, the initial renderings showed landscaped plazas of a sort up there. A real excavation of the structure to create what amounted to white space.
Of course, renderings change, plans change, but why to this degree? Why giant Legos? If, like some have speculated, it amounted to a temporary removal of seats that might one day return, why not just leave the seats there? If it was a funding issue, why not just leave them there too?
And if the stadium's structure itself prevents any way to not make the upper deck in right field feel a million miles away, as Field of Schemes notes
The problem with the outfield upper deck at the Indians’ stadium, really, is with the deck below it: By making room for a wall of triple-decked luxury suites in the infield (and then not lowering the upper deck once it gets to the outfield, the Indians guaranteed that the top-level outfield seats would be a million miles from the action.
then, again, why not just leave it alone?
And if — IF — you're going to install shipping containers anyway, why not cut it off at the right field bend and not bring it around to the first base side? Argh.
Anyway, that's our beef. One season in, it's still bugging us. Everything else the Tribe's done to the Jake? Just swell. This? Please make it go away.