News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Levin Furniture

Hospice of the Western Reserve


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us


Pluto: Indians' Progressive Field is still magical 20 years later
Then-Jacobs Field opened in 1994 and went on to 455 consecutive sellouts. Today, the club has a difficult time filling seats at most games. 
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Terry Pluto says the former Jacob's Field was "a sea of Wahoo red, white and blue" when it opened in the 1990's.
Courtesy of Amanda Rabinowitz
Download (WKSU Only)
When the Indians take on the Minnesota Twins in Cleveland April 4th, it will mark the 20th home opener at Progressive Field. The former Jacob’s Field opened in 1994 and cost $175 million to build. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto shares his memories from when the ballpark was new and the team was hot 20 years ago.
LISTEN: Terry Pluto on Progressive Field's 20th anniversary

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:05)


The downtown stadium where the Indians play was named Jacobs Field after team owners Richard and David Jacobs, from its inaugural season in 1994 until 2008, when its name was changed to Progressive Field after its naming rights were purchased by Progressive Insurance. On April 4, 1994, President Bill Clinton threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the Indians defeated the Seattle Mariners 4–3 in 11 innings.

Memories of a new stadium
Terry Pluto remembers the first season at Jacobs Field fondly. “I suddenly felt like, ‘This is what it was like in America when the lights came on and indoor plumbing showed up.' People would stand at the gates looking out over the field and made pilgrimages down there to take pictures of it."

“It was also one of the first of the new old stadiums, which took the look of old ball parks and make it new.” It was designed by HOK Sport as the second retro-modern ballpark.The first was HOK's Camden Yards in Baltimore, which opened two years before Jacobs Field. The retro-modern ballparks featured angular, asymmetrical fences of varying heights, a smaller upper deck, stepped tiers, and an unobtrusive singular color scheme.  

A hot team
Meanwhile, the Indians were starting to put together a team worthy of playing in that ballpark. “By ‘92, they knew the new ball park was coming and they had torn down the payroll and now they were getting ready to spend,” Pluto says. They brought in free agents like Dennis Martinez, Eddie Murray and Orel Hershiser and matched them with good drafts.

And there was money to spend on long-term contracts because of the new park. “Cable TV was not nearly as important to revenue as it is today. Back then, a new ballpark with all these revenue streams, all the corporate boxes, all the luxuries, this is where the big money came from."

“And if you look at the middle 90's, the two (teams) that got the two newest parks real early – Baltimore and Cleveland – had very good teams because they were able to charge a lot more. It was a magical moment for a baseball fan such as myself.” 

455 sellouts and huge season ticket sales
And the magic lasted well beyond a moment – through 455 consecutive sellouts, “It was a sea of Wahoo red, white and blue.”

In those days, the team sold 27,000 season tickets – and could have sold more had the team not been holding onto some tickets for single-game sales.

“Today, they’re fighting for 8,000 season tickets.”

Challenges of cable TV and capital improvements 
As importantly, “What took over for the ballpark being the big revenue producer in the 1990's, suddenly cable TV became the big thing to have for producing money.”

And with some bad drafts, younger players not panning out and older stars moving on, fans kept looking back to the old days. “It was a great time, but it spoiled everybody.”

And now, the team is pushing for renewal of the sin tax to upgrade a ballpark that’s starting to show its age, despite the $63 million the Indians say they’ve spent on upgrades over the last 20 years.

“When you’re down below you can see some of the structural things that need to be fixed.”

Still, Pluto says, "You sit out in the bleachers and it’s still a good seat. But, he notes that Indians fans are quick to complain about high ticket prices --- but don't seem to complain much about ticket prices for the Browns and Cavs. “Indians fans are kind of a grumpy lot. We all became spoiled children in the 1990's.”


Related WKSU Stories

Veterans and rookies hope for their shot at Indians spring training
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The bond that ties two former Cavs stars
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lots of expectations -- and questions -- at Indians spring training
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pluto: Why smokers and drinkers pay for stadium upkeep instead of wealthy owners
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In the Browns' shadow, Indians bank on nostalgia
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Will Ohio's marijuana initiative follow casinos' lead?
We just ask to have marijuana legalized and here comes some nimrod trying to rob us of our rights and make us buy it from some legalized new type DRUG DEALER th...

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University