(note--- this venue profile was modified in 2001 and 2002 with some new information.)
Jacobs Field in Cleveland is the tenth venue we visited, and home to the Cleveland Indians
since 1994. Part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment complex which also includes
Gund Arena, "The Jake" replaced the old Cleveland Stadium, a gigantic depression-era
stadium which had been the home of the Indians for over 50 years.
This stadium has been nothing short of a marvel since its opening, and the fans sold out
every game since it opened its doors until this streak ended in 2001.. Of course, after years
of futility the Indians have finally put together a competitive team, and came within one out
of a World Series championship in 1997, so selling tickets is not a big challenge here.
The area surrounding Jacobs Field is very city-like, with neighborhood business on one
side, the downtown core on the other side, and the embankment of the Cuyahoga on the
third. Several taverns and eateries, some with outdoor patios, are all within walking
distance of the ballpark. In addition, street vendors selling snacks and souvenirs add to
the festive atmosphere around the park, and attractive public spaces are in abundance
here, especially the plaza area outside centerfield, which is anchored by a statue of Indians
great Bob Feller.
The architecture of the stadium is most significantly exposed steel, to match the bridges
which cross the river nearby. The vertical light towers have a smokestack look to them,
symbolizing this area's industrial heritage.
The stadiums main level and upper concourses are all decorated with giant banners of all
the current Indians players. In the center field area is a multi-level picnic area which offers
a great view of the field as well as the Indians bullpen area. Along the first base side is a
separate mezzanine level adjoining a 300 "club level". The field level has "double"
concourses, one close to the seating area with a view of the field, and an outer concourse
serving up concession and merchandise stands. This makes the building pretty easy to
navigate, and in several nooks are seating areas with picnic tables. In the right field
mezzanine is Wahoo World, an area offering attractions such as a speed pitch booth and
other interactive games. The team does a great job showcasing its 100 year history, with
murals of great moments at League Park and the old Cleveland Stadium.
The seating bowl
Lots of seating choices here, with a field level running from left field all the way around to
the centerfield bleachers. Beneath the left field scoreboard is a high pitched bleacher
section. There are three levels of suites and the restaurant along the third base side and
one level of suites and the club level porch along the first base side. The massive
scoreboard boasts many ad panels, a jumbotron, a color dot matrix board and a centered
one color dot matrix board for stats and lineups. A synchronized set up of changeable ad
panels can be found along the balconies in the entire seating bowl. Next to the left field
bleachers - a new addition for 2001, and a unique one at that - a perfectly round mini
jumbotron which shows players photos and also does special effects. Nice. The seating
bowl looks out onto a panoramic view of the beautiful downtown Cleveland skyline, and the
Gund Arena across the Gateway Plaza.
Outside the center field entrance is a statue of Indian great Bob Feller. Other Indians
greats whose numbers are retired include Lou Boudreau, Mel Harder, Earl Averill, Larry
Doby and Bob Lemon. Until recently, this franchise's shining moments were in 1948 (World
Series Champs) and 1954 (AL champs). Most of the players listed here come from that era.
The team's sellout streak ended in 2001 at an amazing 455 games, and that number has
been "retired" in honor of the fans.
Jacobs Field offers a wide variety of food choices including Mexican, Deli, and even
complete chicken dinners. The most unique item here is a CONDIMENT - the brown
Bertman's mustard. Don't even look for the French's yellow stuff here, none to be found,
but the tangy brown mustard is a Jacobs Field staple and a must do for your hot dog or
polish sausage . For the premium ticket holder there is the Terrace Club, a tiered
restaurant along the third base side on the mezzanine level offering a great view of the
playing field. On the third base side on the main level is a huge team store.
Cleveland is the parent club of our AAA Buffalo Bisons, so needless to say, this roster is
STACKED with players and coaches who we know and love.
This was not the first time here for either of us, so we already have our predetermined
impressions of this ballpark. First, because tickets are so hard to get, the single ticket
buyer usually is relegated to the highest part of the upper deck or the outfield. This
stadium really is big and lacks the basic intimacy of some other ballparks, so you really are
far away from the action. If it's a clammy night or a blowout, people leave and you try to
move down, forget about it! The ushers are like the sphincter police here. Even if it is the
11th inning on a 40 degree night, they will ask you for your ticket if they think they don't
recognize you, and toss you without batting an eye. The rest of the staff here is also pretty
rude and surly. These people have apparently forgotten what it was like in the old stadium
when they couldn't give away tickets. But that being said, this is a team that we know and
love and we plan to come back to visit again and again.
Try Jacobs Field out, you will be impressed... and let us advise you that you will be
encountering some of the most enthusiastic, rabid fans in all of baseball, in a great venue
and an awesome downtown setting. On the face of it we would give at least 4 stars in a
heartbeat, but we give a full point deduction for the arrogant in house staff. Lighten up,
and your grade goes up Cleveland!
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 8
Fan support 7.5
Location and neighborhood 8.5
Banners and history 6
In game entertainment 6
Concourses/fan comfort 7
Bonus: Buffalo Bisons parent club 1; Bob Feller stature 1; Drum banging dude in bleachers 2; USRT