Here it is baseball fans, your complete and extremely helpful Progressive Field guide! Your favorite ballpark expert is here to help you save money on Guardians tickets, choose the best seats for your taste and budget, learn the best ways to get to Progressive Field (including great parking options), and choose from the truly amazing menu of Guardians game food. It’s all here, and you’ll be a much smarter fan armed with these tips.
There’s a lot to review here, so I’ve broken it down for you:
Okay, we’re mostly done with the key phrases to make Google happy (well, almost done: Progressive Field Tips!) so after this quick word from our sponsor, we’ll get started.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 1) Scoring Cheap Guardians Tickets
Your first task going to a Guardians game is to order tickets of course, so I’ll talk about each method and its advantages. Pay attention here…this can save you a lot of money.
The first and most expeditious route is to use the Guardians’ website or the MLB Ballpark app to buy tickets from the team; the first thing you should do is sign up for the Guardians’ ticket alert newsletter. The newsletter will alert you to pre-sales, giveaway nights, discounts, and other worthwhile deals. Sometimes they do cool stuff like waiving ticket fees.
The Guardians use “dynamic pricing”, meaning ticket prices go up and down according to demand, but they claim that tickets are cheapest when they first go on sale. If you’re looking to go to a high demand game such as Opening Day or a weekend game against the Yankees or Cubs, it’s best to get tickets as soon as they go on sale, since there will likely be a markup on these later.
If all you want is to visit the ballpark, the lowest demand games are easily in April (you’ll see why), but if you’re coming in the summer, try to get a weekday game if you can. Choice of opponent doesn’t matter too much, but the Cubs draw pretty big crowds so plan ahead for that.
If you don’t want to pay the online fees, which are considerable, you can get tickets at the box office at the ballpark; you can also pick up tickets at the team store if you want to avoid lines. There are ticket kiosks at the ballpark, but they do charge convenience fees for using them.
On non-game days the box office is only open from 10:00-2:00 on weekdays, and it’s closed on weekends, so you need to time it to save on the fees. They also charge a small day-of-game fee too, but it’s not as much as the convenience fee.
Then there’s the third party route, which can save you significant cash if you plan it right. The lower the demand for the game, the cheaper tickets will be, especially since the Guardians offer a lot of multi-game deals that leave people with extras. Closer to game time on a mid-week April game, you could find a steal on good seats.
I love TickPick for Guardians tickets, but if you’re comparing, just be sure to go all the way to the checkout page to see what your tickets really cost. Those fees are a b***.
Remember that for high demand games, it’s usually cheaper to buy from the team when tickets go on sale; but if you haven’t planned ahead, try waiting till the last minute when prices can drop. Just don’t wait too long; typically sites shut down sales around two hours before the game.
The Guardians prohibit re-sale of tickets at any price, but of course you will see scalpers and people with extras on occasion, especially on the E. 9th Street and Ontario Street sides of the ballpark where most people enter.
I’m not sure if it’s just that I’ve gone on low attendance nights, but I don’t recall being pursued by brokers too much in my visits to Cleveland. Maybe it’s my “I’ve already got tickets” look.
Finally, I’ve written more about buying tickets on Craigslist here…but the short version is that while you might score a great deal on tickets, there’s no checks in place, so treat a Craigslist seller like you would a scalper. Check the date and opponent on the ticket and look for smudge marks or uneven scissor cuts. If your gut tells you not to buy the tickets, don’t.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 2: The Best Seats You Can Afford
OK, so you’ve found a route to get Guardians tickets; so choose your seats carefully.
I’ll talk about seats for every budget level here and what you should know. I’m skipping the suites, including the Dugout Suites, since they’re mostly for corporate types, but here’s the skinny for the rest of us. (If you really want to get in depth, check out this much more detailed post…)
Money Is No Object Budget. The Guardians’ premium-priced seating includes the Diamond Box seats and the Field Box Front seats behind home plate; the Field Box Front seats are slightly more expensive than the Field Box seats behind them.
Field and Diamond Box season ticket holders have access to the swanky Lexus Home Plate Club; an indoor club with a full bar, some of the great new food items (more about that in a bit), and a glass enclosure to view the game.
That big mezzanine section that juts out on the first base side is the Club section, with padded seats, drink rails, and access to the Discount Drug Mart Club, which is climate-controlled…no small thing here. Club seats include food from multiple stations, including build your own burgers, a meat carving station, nachos, pizza, etc.
Food and non-alcoholic drinks are all included with your ticket, and the seats offer a terrific view of the field and the Big Board. These seats come in three price ranges, and you can definitely save a few bucks with the “outfield” club seats without sacrificing much in view.
Large Budget. If you care at least a little bit about what you’re spending, you can sit in the back rows of sections between the dugouts, or in closer seats past the bases and out to the foul pole. They’re still very good seats, but don’t include Club access.
If you’re sitting in the lower level, I prefer the first base side for its straight ahead view of the left field scoreboard, one of the most striking features of this ballpark, and the Cleveland skyline beyond it. However, you need to get a low row…with the Club section creating a big overhang, anything from Row AA up could lose the view.
Medium Budget. The Guardians don’t start calling lower level seats “Lower Reserved” until you get into right field. These seats are about half the price of Field Box seating, and they do have some advantages despite being outfield seats…for one, they’re close to the Right Field District, and some amazing food offerings, and Section 103 is close to the bullpens; watching pitchers warm up and offering encouragement is always fun.
The upper level seats at the Prog are divided into three price levels, four if you count the “front row” increase…View + Upper Box (400), and Upper Reserved (500). With the open concourses and suite levels, the upper tier is pretty high up, which is likely why these seats are cheaper than most lower level seating. It can also be cooler up here, so bring a jacket for the cooler nights.
Despite the height, I’ve sat on the first base side in the upper level a number of times and have always enjoyed it…the view of the scoreboard and skyline are superb, even if you’re not very close to the action. Not bad at all for inexpensive seats.
Cheap Seats and Standing Room. If you’re going as cheap as possible or want to bring the family without breaking the Venmo account, there’s several ways to do it.
The Family Deck is a similar level of seating to the Club area, but it’s in right field and doesn’t offer Club access. It’s great for families though…tickets are cheap and there’s a great indoor-outdoor play area that I’ll talk about in a bit. If you choose this spot, use the escalator in the right field concourse, and bring sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
The bleachers in front of the scoreboard are among the cheapest of Guardians tickets, but the team actually sells season tickets to this spot, so it’s popular among fans. The bleacher seats have backs, so they’re more comfortable than at Wrigley, but I would still bring a cushion to sit here. The closer rows cost more than the back rows, so shoot for Row L if you’re going cheap.
Unfortunately, John Adams, the team’s drummer, has passed away. RIP John.
More so than most teams these days, the Guardians offer some really sweet standing room options, and they sell a District Ticket that includes a beer for a very nice price. Both outfield corners feature standing spots with counters, and there’s a good spot behind the bullpens too if you’re into heckling.
In the right field corner is the two-level Corner Bar, a nice spot to duck out of the cold even if drinks are pricey. Visit the very cool fire pit upstairs to warm up; it’s a pretty happening spot on cold nights. (I’ve even almost had conversations with women there!)
Finally and probably most importantly, the first base and right field sides are the last to see shade for night games, something to be mindful of on a hot day…or a cold one.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 3: The Best Way(s) To Get To Progressive Field
It’s easy enough to take your car to the Prog for a game, and you can usually find a good spot for parking. (More about your best Guardians game parking options here.) But there’s public transit options and shuttles too, and we’ll talk about all of that.
But first, driving to the ballpark and parking. Progressive Field is easily accessed by I-90/I-71 from the southeast and I-77 from the southwest, but the ballpark exits lead to streets you probably want to avoid if you can, if you’re getting there an hour or less before game time.
To avoid traffic, try using exits that approach the ballpark from the north or west, like the E. 14th Street exit from I-77 or the E. 22nd Street exit from I-90/I-71. The Shoreway (OH Route 2 from I-90 east of the ballpark and U.S. 6/20 west of the park) is sometimes an easier approach. It might be easier to exit going north and using I-90 to get to I-77 or I-71.
Remember that the Cavaliers play here too. If there is a Cavs game or other event going on in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse that night (and you should check), either get to the ballpark very early or use the soon-to-be-discussed RTA.
I’ll talk about some popular parking spots here, but my #1 tip for Guardians game parking is to book it ahead of time.
Here are some parking tips:
The Gateway East Garage is the closest thing to an “official” garage; it’s right across the street and fairly reasonable by near the ballpark standards. Definitely reserve this one beforehand, though.
The East 9th Street lots east of the ballpark are right off of I-77 and allow for a pretty easy exit, but you’ll pay more for the privilege. You can usually find cheaper lots if you go north a couple blocks.
The Tower City Garage is a bit of a walk and not any cheaper, but the walk is mostly through an indoor covered walkway until you get to the Cavs arena. Not bad on cold nights, and an easier out after the game.
There are plenty of other choices for parking, just consider where you’ll be coming from, and book something ahead of time!
Be warned that as you get north and west of the ballpark in the Prospect/Bolivar/E. 14th St. area, it’s a less safe part of downtown, and you’ll see signs like the one above. If cheap matters to you more than convenience, try going east of the ballpark on Carnegie Avenue.
If you’d like to beat the man and park for free at Progressive Field, there are some streets where meters are inactive on weekends, like Carnegie Avenue east of the ballpark. You’ll need good timing to land one though. Or you could try the numbered streets north of the ballpark; many spots are free after 6:00 PM and weekends; you can feed the meter cheaply if needed.
The city is tougher on street parking for high demand games, so I would avoid trying it then. Like I always say, street parking is at your own risk.
Finally, here’s my favorite parking tip for Guardians games, if you can pull it off: if you’re making a day of visiting Cleveland (and there are plenty of reasons to), find a lot that offers an “early bird” special…there are a few around the Euclid-Prospect-Huron St. area.
Park your car for $5 for the day, visit the Science Center or Rock and Roll Hall, and easily get back to your car and to your cheap spot after the game. Just be sure they’ll let you stay through the game, some lots might kick cars out before gametime.
RTA transit trains are also a perfectly easy way to get to a Guardians game, if you can reach a station easily enough. Parking is free at most stations, the train ride is cheap and comfortable by big city public transit standards, and the train drops you off at Tower City, a ten minute walk to the ballpark. Most of the walk is through a covered walkway.
Some things to know about using the RTA: for one, you pay your fee downtown, getting on or off. Also, if demand isn’t great, which is often, the RTA will sometimes substitute buses for trains to get to the outskirts of the Blue or Green lines.
The RTA is especially useful for high demand midweek games, or when the Cavs are playing and traffic gets heavy. Enough fans ride the RTA that you can follow them back to the station after the game, but you shouldn’t have a problem finding a seat.
The RTA has some other options you can use for getting to games, like their eco-friendly Healthline buses and the free downtown trolleys that run during the day on weekdays.
I can’t think of an advantage of using the Healthline unless you’d like to enjoy some nightlife on E. 4th Street after the game and need a bus that runs all night. Similarly, there are only a small handful of weekday games, but if you can park for free near a trolley station it’s a nice deal. Try it if you’re going to Opening Day.
You can also use a shuttle to get to the Guardians game. The Flat Iron Café is located on Center Street near U.S. 6/20; there is a very inexpensive lot nearby but you shouldn’t have a problem finding free street parking there, especially after 6:00 PM and on weekends.
At the Flatty, you can enjoy a less expensive Irish pub meal and couple of brews, get a free ride to the game and back, and enjoy an easy exit afterward. I don’t know if I’d say it’s a well-kept secret, but everyone I talked to in my visit to the place loves this option.
The Great Lakes Brewery used to run their Fatty Wagon to game and back from its location near the West Side Market, but as I write this it isn’t in service. This may change, so it doesn’t hurt to check if you like a quality burger and brew and a ride to the game.
Finally, you have some bicycle riding options, believe it or not. There is a “Bike Rack” facility a short walk from the ballpark where you can use the outside racks for free or pay a small fee to secure your bicycle inside. They have showers and everything.
That said, the Prog is in an area heavily trafficked by cars. The Bike Rack people describe it as being for “intermediate” or “experienced” cyclists. It’s pretty heavy traffic around here, and bicycling isn’t something I’d recommend doing with your kid if they’ve just shed the training wheels.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 4: What To Eat At A Guardians Game
Progressive Field has so many fantastic food options that I’ve dedicating a separate post just to the best of the Progressive Field menu. But if you don’t want to go through all of that, I’ll list some of my favorite choices here…including an important bit about Ballpark Mustard.
So first, sit down restaurants.
I’ve already discussed the Club Lounge in the seating section, and it’s a great deal if you have the means. The Club Lounge offers chef-prepared stuff, including from Asian, pasta, and carving stations, and they’ll sometimes offer regional stuff based on who’s in town. (I was there for a game against the Mariners where they had Space Needle Grilled Beef. Sounded good anyway.)
There’s also the Terrace Club, on the mezzanine level in the left field corner. It’s a meal with a great view of a ballpark, although the view of the actual action isn’t great. You can order pre-game or during the game reservations, but with pre-game seating you’re only allowed there for 90 minutes.
Still, the Terrace Club is definitely a cool experience, and the Indians have high-end buffets available for an amount of money that you could spend on inferior food around the ballpark. Aside from the buffet there is a high end if somewhat pricey menu with food that by most accounts is very good.
Outside of the restaurants the team has created several “Districts” that showcase some of the iconic eats in Cleveland. I’ll briefly cover the selections here; lots more detail on my Progressive Field food page (coming soon!).
In the Right Field District:
Melt Bar & Grilled has a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches made with Texas Toast; try the chorizo and potato or the mushroom sandwich with grilled onions…that might be the best vegetarian meal I’ve had at a game.
Barrio allows you to build your own tacos, or at least suggest to the person behind the counter what to do. Their tacos get high marks but I can tell you their nacho plate is truly awesome. Very salty chips though.
The Great Lakes Brewery is known for their craft beers (as they should be), but they have some cool food offerings too, like brats covered with onions, peppers and Ballpark Mustard.
Cleveland Dogs & Shakes isn’t based on a local eatery, but if you like extra stuff piled on your hot dog, this is the spot; ten inch dogs covered with things like pierogies, bacon, banana peppers or other stuff. Get your dog on a pretzel bun here.
Just getting warmed up here…
In The Infield + Left Field Districts:
The Brew Kettle is mostly about their craft beers, but they also carry the Wisconsin Brat Burger: a spicy pork burger with Swiss cheese and their homemade kraut relish on a pretzel bun.
If you’re into high end pizza, Dante’s Inferno is a creation of chef Dante Boccuzzi, and at the Prog you can get a hand crafted pizza with spaghetti and meatballs on it, or the spicy Inferno pizza with sausage, pepperoni, olives and hot peppers.
At the appropriately named Fat Head’s Brewery, get your big appetite on with their “Headwiches”…sandwiches the size of your head (almost). Try the Fat Italian or the Southside Slopes – a kielbasa with pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions and horseradish sauce
Happy Dog might be my favorite of the fancy food eateries at the Prog…for no other reason than they’re the first outfit I could think of to put Froot Loops on a hot dog. True. They have lost of other unusual options for baseball’s classic food here, so check it out.
Not done yet! The Prog is a great place to get your Mexican food fix on, even if I wouldn’t argue that Barrio is more than good enough for the task:
Momocho has nachos and quesadillas; with made to order chips and homemade guac and salsa. Top your chips with chicken, pulled pork or sausage. It’s a great plate of nachos, although I still slightly prefer Barrio’s.
Ohio City Burrito is your destination for baseball’s most underrated food, the burrito. They fill your burritos with beef, pulled pork or chicken and the standard fillings, roll them with outstanding accuracy, and serve them with homemade salsa.
As you can see, pardon my French, but the Prog offers a kick ass menu with your baseball, and that’s not including the generic stands that sell very large hot dogs. I’ll just mention a few other things here:
In my last visit there was a Charred Dogs stand; I think it’s behind home plate. If you want your hot dogs blackened on an open fire grill, check this spot out.
Speaking of those hot dogs, they’re still made by Sugardale; and at the also aptly named Sausages & Dogs stands, you can get the really hefty half pounders. These are like the footlongs you find at a lot of ballparks, only thicker…and with peppers, onions, and Ballpark Mustard piled on, it can be a great value by ballpark standards.
OK, so let me talk about the Bertman’s Mustard briefly. Joe Bertman’s spicy brown mustard served at Guardians games has been part of Cleveland since the 1920s; Bertman’s takes pride in not watering down their Dijon-style mustard and using the vinegar, and you can definitely taste the difference.
Some folks, myself included, have picked up “Stadium Mustard” in Cleveland area markets thinking it was the same thing, and it’s not…it’s a very similar version that I’ve read was created by a former associate of Bertman’s. They’re very similar, but Bertman’s is the real thing if you’re interested in ordering some…and it’s definitely the best mustard I’ve tried in a ballpark.
If you’ve ever witnessed an inane Twitter argument, you might like this…someone who refused to identify himself emailed me about this and angrily accused me of spreading “mustard propaganda”, and who knows, he might be right, even if I laughed MAO at the accusation.
I’m just glossing over the impressive food selection at Progressive Field, but just one more note. You can bring your own food into the ballpark. The Guardians allow a 16*16*8 bag, and they don’t specifically prohibit food, although they do say you can bring in one sealed bottle of water.
You can add some eats to your bag at several shops in Tower City if you’re using the RTA, and there are peanut vendors across E. 9th Street from the ballpark, and Aladdin’s Bakery on Carnegie Avenue has gyros and halal sandwiches. You get the idea.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 5: Bringing The Kids
Few ballparks are as kid-friendly as Progressive Field these days. They’ve added the Kids Clubhouse on the mezzanine level, and this has become a two-story interactive play area with a big slide and everything, and parents can watch the game while kids play. As I’ve said, the Family Deck is a good spot for families, but definitely bring sunscreen.
Also on the mezzanine level, the Rookie Suite and Slugger’s Sandlot are playgrounds for kids of varying ages, including a “Little League Park” wiffle ball field (with a short porch for your young slugger), a climbing wall, video games and batting cages among other fun stuff. You need to sign a waiver for the kids. They’ve even included a nursing room in case Time Magazine’s cover girl shows up.
Most of the play area is in the outfield near the secret escalator (it’s behind the right field seats), with interactive baseball games and a mock-up of Slider, the team mascot, sitting on a bench (sometimes the real Slider or hot dog mascots will make an appearance). This is a very popular place for families (it’s air-conditioned in spots), so be prepared.
The Guardians offer discounted tickets for kids with the purchase of an adult ticket, and the Guardians have a fan club for kids that includes some cool Guardians swag, discounts on gear, and exclusive experiences for a price that makes it worth it.
Sundays are Kids Days, with animals or other attractions in the plaza on Eagle Avenue; kids can actually interview players and are allowed to run the bases after the game. The run the bases promotion is very popular, so you may want to bring the kid to the first base side early. They also set up a Kids Play area with bounce houses and such on Kids Days.
The Indians run Sugardale Hot Dog Races after the fifth inning of each game. The hot dogs are Guardians employees disguised as franks covered with various condiments. Ketchup wins a lot of races, but is known to cheat. When not racing, the Sugardale dogs will greet fans in the concourse areas.
At Guest Services you can put a tag on your kid with the seat location, and get them a first game certificate they’ll file away forever.
Progressive Field Guide, Part 6: Photo-Ops + Other Tips
OK, we’re almost done…thanks for sticking with me this far! Just a few things…starting with a few of my favorite photo-ops here:
Progressive Field Photo-Op #1) Player Statues. You can find statues of Indians greats Bob Feller, Jim Thome, Larry Doby and Lou Boudreau outside the ballpark in their classic poses, including Feller’s high leg kick windup. Good meeting spot for fans too.
Progressive Field Photo-Op #2) Heritage Park. The Heritage Park area in the outfield commemorates Cleveland baseball greatness, including a statue of Frank Robinson and a dedication to Ray Chapman, an Indian who died from being hit by a pitched baseball. It’s worth a look for baseball history buffs; get there early to avoid the crowds.
Progressive Field Photo-Op #3) The Big Board + Skyline. I’ve said earlier that the view of the huge scoreboard and Cleveland skyline is worth sitting on the first base side of the field; its especially impressive from the upper level. I haven’t been there since the team’s name change, so this is the latest edition I have of the view.
Progressive Field Photo-Op #4) The Upper Concourse View. Even if you’re not sitting in the upper level, take an escalator up and have a look at the surrounding area from the upper concourse. It’s pretty boffo, especially at sunset.
Progressive Field Photo-Op #5) Hot Dog Race Mascots. Before the game you can usually find the hot dog mascots that will be running in the race, and they’re happy to pose with fans as shown with this lanky goofball.
Progressive Field is a beautiful ballpark…there’s a lot of great spots to point your camera.
Getting around the ballpark, it’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll) of the Prog, so there are several escalators to use; the impressive main escalator is near the team shop on the first base side; the other is the previously alluded to “secret” way to get to the mezzanine in right field. Escalators go up only, but you can use an elevator at Section 559 to get down.
Gate A is the most popular entrance, being near the box office, play areas, and home run porch. If you want to avoid long lines at the gate, you’re better off with Gate D near Broadway Avenue. Or use the redesigned Right Field Gate, with the impressive statue of Bob Feller. This gate is the first to open; for the first hour or so fans are confined to the outfield, but with the food selection there that’s all good.
Whew! No idea there was so much to know, right? Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Progressive Field guide and that the tips I’ve shared here help you save money, time, and aggravation, and enjoy the wonderful experience that is baseball in Cleveland. If you’ve got any questions, by all means drop a line…and there’s more stuff below if you’d like more details, by the way.
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