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Volume 21 No. 1
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Design/build proposal targets Progressive Field upgrades

Don Muret
The Cleveland Indians have issued a design/build proposal to construction firms for completing upgrades to Progressive Field.

The document mentions an investment of $20 million, and construction would start in October after the 2014 season, according to industry sources. The number the Indians have in mind is closer to $15 million, said Jim Folk, the team’s vice president of ballpark operations.

To this point, Folk said, no decisions have been made on specific improvements to the stadium, which turns 20 years old this year. In addition, no public or private funding has been approved for any potential projects, but Folk said the Indians want to get a better sense of the investment required to bring the facility up to speed with newer parks.

The Cleveland Indians haven’t yet decided on specific improvements for their park.
Populous, the stadium’s original architect, teamed with local firm Westlake Reed Leskosky a few years ago to develop a master plan for what a 21st-century ballpark could look like. The Indians are using the document as a benchmark for improving the fan experience, Folk said.

“The way people are watching baseball games has changed so much over the years,” Folk said. “The focus is on party decks and social gathering spaces rather than 40,000 seats facing the infield.

“We have to figure out what could reasonably be done and what the budget could look like. We are not anywhere near turning anything loose.”

Progressive Field opened in 1994 with 130 suites, but that number has been cut to about 115 after long-term leases expired and companies declined to renew their deals because of economic conditions and a desire to get closer to the field.

By comparison, newer MLB facilities such as Marlins Park, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field have fewer than 60 suites.

Over the past five seasons, the Indians have converted some empty suites to single-game party areas, including the Fan Cave, featuring a pool table and video games, and the Rookie Suite for kids age 6 and younger that comes with an indoor playground and a climbing wall.

> SUPER SOUND: The NFL has signed a deal with GilmanSound to upgrade game-day audio for the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.
Company owner Paul Gilman, a musician, producer and composer, produces computer software that reshapes sound waves and distributes them evenly in a stadium, ultimately creating a better listening experience for fans attending sports events.
The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros both use Gilman’s system to improve the sound at their stadiums, which includes postgame concerts at Rangers Ballpark and Minute Maid Park (SportsBusiness Journal, July 22-28, 2013).

The NFL, though, will not use the technology for the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

NFL officials first experienced GilmanSound while attending a Rangers game last season. They liked what they heard and tested the system during Jets and Giants games in New Jersey before signing the deal, Gilman said.
“For this Super Bowl, they want the standard of audio to be raised,” he said. “We’re transforming MetLife Stadium, which already has beautiful equipment. I was thinking, ‘How am I going to top this?’ But it’s working better than I thought. It’s the best sound you can get.”

> PREMIER DEALS: The TD Place naming-rights deal for an Ottawa sports complex capped a productive year for Premier Partnerships, the Los Angeles-based marketer.

Over the past 12 months, Premier was the sales agency for five naming-rights agreements, a record for the 10-year-old firm, said Jeff Marks, its managing director.

Three were in sports: Moda Center, Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium, and now TD Place, announced earlier this month. In addition, Premier Partnerships served as a consultant for Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

Toronto-based TD Bank’s deal to rename a CFL stadium and minor league hockey arena at historic Lansdowne Park spans more than 10 years and is valued at more than $1 million annually, said Roger Greenberg, a developer and principal with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. The group is spearheading a $400 million to $500 million redevelopment of the 150-year-old property that covers a mixed-use district in addition to renovating the sports facilities.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.