The Tribe had closed out the previous fall at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium — their home ballpark since the 1930s — and was quite pleased to go ‘from the outhouse to the penthouse’, as one wag put it.
Jacobs Field was designed by a team that included HOK Sport, the Indians’ management, their active and dynamic owner Mr. Richard Jacobs, sign designer ZZ Design, and a host of other consultants. The new workmanlike and welcoming ‘industrial’ ballpark echoed the unpretentious blue-collar origins of the nearby Cleveland Flats — the low-lying areas surrounding the serpentine twists of the Cuyahoga River originally home to the city’s traditional coal, mining, steel, auto and warehousing industries.
Jacobs Field rightfully heralded the dawning of a new day for the city’s major league franchise. Invigorated by a progressive owner, a young and talented team, and an avid fan base (‘The Jake’ set a Major League record for the longest run of consecutive sell-outs), the Tribe went on to the World Series in both 1995 and 1997, and hosted baseball’s All-Star Game in 1997 as well. A spot in the deep green seats of Jacobs Field became every Clevelander’s summertime passion. As Scott Huler of The News and Observer aptly noted, “Jacobs Field might be the best place to watch a baseball game on the continent.” Every game, it seemed that 43,500 fans agreed with Scott.
Though since renamed Progressive Park, as new ownership and new naming rights holders have entered the picture, this grand playing field, with its distinctive ‘toothbrush’ light spires and spaceship drum of radiating trusswork set against golden brick and pale limestone, is both a testament to the early industrial might of America’s Midwestern cities and an approachable yet enduring cathedral to America’s pastime.