Take Me Out To The Ballgame
The Cleveland Indians Kick-Off 2015 Home Opener April 10
There are some cities where when the major league baseball team opens for its first home game, the city simply shows up for an afternoon of baseball.
Then there's Cleveland.
When the Cleveland Indians announce the date of their home opener, Clevelanders get their PTO sheets approved, the ticketing sites light up and the sports bars surrounding Progressive Field get ready to rock.
You see, the Cleveland Indians Home Opener is practically a citywide holiday around these parts. And, that excitement is expected yet again this year when the Indians open against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, April 10 at 4:10pm. The game is already sold out.
Whether you have a ticket or not, you'd best make your way over to the Gateway District beforehand to kick off this all-American pastime. Places like Panini's Bar & Grille, The Clevelander, Wilbert's, The Thirsty Parrot and A.J. Rocco's set up tents and extra seating outside.
This year, you might notice that things seem a bit extra boisterous.
Or, it might be because the Indians are expected to be one heck of a team this year.
The Tribe, which spent the better half of the last few years nurturing their young players, now has a team of established talent who are ready to rock the highly competitive American League Central Division.
"There's a real sense of confidence with this baseball team coming off of two winning seasons," Bob Dibioso, Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs for the Cleveland Indians, said. "We have a core group of young athletes who've signed multi-year deals. They're committed to one another, committed to the organization and committed to the city of Cleveland to bring a championship to our town."
The team, which is led by beloved manager Terry Francona, is comprised of some super stars like Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis.
"To be honest, it'll be a disappointment for this franchise if we're not playing baseball in October," Dibiaso said.
In addition to a team headed for championship status [fingers crossed fingers crossed fingers crossed], the Indians are preparing Progressive Field with some new additions and renovations that will draw the big crowds.
Fans can purchase something called a "District Ticket," which is a $13 standing-room-only ticket to the park. It's in a new section of the park where fans can belly up to the two-story bar - made from wood and steel reclaimed from city buildings and bridges - and order from a wide list of local and craft brews.
"Throughout all of our market research, we've learned that the younger generation of baseball fans want social gathering spots," Dibiaso said. "No longer are they ok with just sitting in their seats for a three-hour game."
District Ticketholders also can enjoy the open-air fire pit on the roofdeck and the climate-controlled interior with floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls.
Better yet, this year, the Indians will throw in a free drink for all District Ticketholders.
Another great addition to the 2015 season is the inclusion of some locavorian favorites inside the ballpark.
"I don't think you walk into a football game or an indoor sports facility and say, ‘What am I going to eat today?' It's different when you go to the ballpark. Food is probably one of the most important elements of the entire experience."
So, go beyond the typical peanuts and Cracker Jacks with local Mexican cuisine from Barrio, overstuffed grilled cheese sandwiches from Melt Bar & Grilled, decadent ice cream sundaes from Sweet Moses, burgers from Dynomite Burgers and sausage and exclusive beers from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
And, for the parents among us, you'll be happy to know that the Indians are expanding their children's offering with the redesigned Family Deck featuring tickets starting at $10 for kids 12 and under (with the purchase of an adult ticket).
"The redesigned deck is next to the expanded Kid's Clubhouse area that will have a great view of the field and a ton of engaging activities," Dibiaso said. "There'll be interactive activities in a real family-friendly environment including a two-story slide, interactive locker room and pitching and fielding activities."
Dibiaso says all the renovations and improvements are truly focused on improving the overall fan experience.
And, for that, let us all collectively say, "GO TRIBE!"