The Five Story Makeover

Progressive Field reopened for business this week after a $25 million renovation, most of the focus on the outfield. I agree with this comparison:

It has everything to do with those terraces on the upper deck. Designed for groups of standing fans, the effect was supposed to be a series of patios leisurely overlooking the field. Instead there are these blocky mini-façades that are both overly busy and distracting. While some unifying paint work will soften the look, I can’t help but think that these terraces are little more than glorified seat coverings – not as bad as tarps, but not much better.

Unlike Coors Field, where much of the RF upper deck was ripped out to accommodate a lengthy outdoor bar, at Progressive Field the Indians choose not to remove the upper deck risers, which would’ve freed up space and eliminated the need to build around them. So while the capacity has dropped to around 37,000, it could go back up if team saw the need to “expand.”

Photo from “Did The Tribe Win Last Night?” blog


Much better conceived is the two-story “Corner Bar” along the main concourse. Several rows of seats in the RF corner were replaced with standing areas, the bar itself having its own patios. And the RF gate has been rearranged, allowing for direct views from the expanded entry plaza instead of the very broken up look it used to have.

As part of the redone outfield, the visiting bullpen has been moved to CF in a stacked configuration. The old bullpen bench and access to it remain, allowing fans to wander in and sit there for a spell. It’s a neat “new” feature to give to fans.

Coors Field in 2014, Rooftop Bar in RF upper deck

Coors Field in 2014, Rooftop Bar in RF upper deck

The Jake and Coors were well known in the 90’s for great attendance records, both teams surpassing 3.5 million in season attendance on multiple occasions. As the novelty wore off, both venues started to look cavernous. It took the better part of a decade for ownership to figure out how to adapt the parks to an evolving fanbase. The Coors project perhaps looks more appealing, but the work at Progressive is more comprehensive. Either way, it’s nice to see both parks keeping up with the times.

58 thoughts on “The Five Story Makeover

  1. instead of it being white and being an eyesore visually they should’ve painted those “boxes” green at least.

    coors renovation really does look a whole lot better.

    • The middle tier of the boxes is painted green. That picture is before they were completed and you can see the paint scaffolding on the far left middle tier box. But all three levels should have been green or blue.

  2. a’s probably were thinking something similar with their design of cisco field in sj.

    • I still believe letsgoas, I still believe…

      OT: BTW RM, do you plan a review/thread in the future for Avaya Stadium? Similar to past threads dedicated Levi’s and Stanford stadium? Just curious; have a good one.

    • Left Center Field should be more open. Feels a bit too enclosed in this pic and the angle needs to shaped better from left to left center.

  3. The renovations described in this post are arguments for the smaller A’s stadium design. A two-deck, 32-34K capacity stadium would be just fine. It would create enough ticket scarcity that the novelty might never wear off, unlike what happened in Colo and the Jake.

    • Agree JJ,
      just for fun all, Google image old pics of US Cellular Field next to old Comiskey Park. You get a real sense of just how massive many ballparks were designed in the 90’s/early 2000’s. Hopefully the A’s go old school with a smaller stadium and intimacy.

      • I was there the first month at was once New Comiskey Park, while Old Comiskey was still standing. When you walked out on the upper concourse (even with the first row of the upper deck you could look DOWN on the last row of the old upper deck. Both parks had about the same capacity. Such a missed opportunity.

    • Exactly….less seat supply…creates more seat demand. I think 35-37k seat ballpark is good though….not 32k-34k. That’s just a bit too small IMO.

  4. i think 35k or 36k with the space to expand a couple of thousand seats is the ideal size for a new a’s park be it in oakland or sj.

    now cisco field’s initial capacity was 32k and looking at the images back 4-5 years, damn has it been that long, i really didn’t see the room to expand the seating by even 2-3 thousand.

    that wouldn’t be an issue if the a’s were to build at the coliseum as they’d have free reigns on the deign and wouldn’t be restricted like cisco field and even at&t had when it was built.

    but gone are the days of these massive 50k+ stadiums. heck just look at the two recent ny teams with the new yankee stadium capacity dropping to just over 50k from the old yankee stadium capacity of 57k and the nym’s city field capacity of 45k from the 57k capacity of shea stadium.

    • @letsgoas
      On second thought I agree with you.

    • I respectfully disagree in regards to 32-35,000 seat ballparks being designed with expansion in mind. As the topic of this thread suggests, most ballparks of the great Retro Era were probably built to big and now we’re seeing some forms of downsizing. I’ll bet in the future we’ll see more ballparks decreasing capacity.

      Just my opinion, but long term (mid century) MLB should think big and smaller; more teams and extremely intimate ballparks. Much like London has 6 teams from the English Premier League, I could see 3-4 teams in the largest metro area’s (Bay Area, LA/Riverside, NY/NJ for example). Some current AAA markets could also be promoted to MLB status (Charlotte, Indianapolis, Sac for example). Ballpark capacities of these new markets/teams would be in the range of 25-35,000 seats. Love thinking outside the box! Again, just my opinion…

      • i can’t believe the big markets with two teams already in it would want to see another franchise moving in on their territory.

      • You’re completely right letsgoas. That sort of expansion has no chance of happening., even without an ATE.

      • You both could be right I suppose. But again, my hypothetical is for 30-40 years (or even longer) down the road, not tomorrow. What do you think the population of the Bay Area will be in 2050? The Sac Metro in 2050?…

      • All three of you are right. It just felt good, so I thought I would go with it.

    • Also don’t discredit the impact the internet has had on this. The secondary ticket market at it’s current scale is relatively new. It’s newer than Jacobs, the new Comisky, etc.

      People could always buy from scalpers or ticket brokers who advertised in the paper (shocking I know) but that was on a much smaller scale than what can happen today.

      It’s simple supply and demand. People dumping tickets on the secondary market have typically paid something for the ticket to begin with. They would rather sell it for a few bucks than get nothing for it.

      If you can get cheap tickets right before a game, why would you buy from the team or even consider getting season tickets. It also forces clubs like the A’s to run cheap ticket promotions.

      Teams are better off missing out on a few thousand fans because by lowering capacity it increases the average ticket price and can help drive season ticket sales.

      • “Teams are better off missing out on a few thousand fans because by lowering capacity it increases the average ticket price and can help drive season ticket sales.”

        Exactly. And a smaller-capacity stadium is cheaper to build, and requires less square footage devoted to parking (which allows more room for ancillary development).

  5. More proof that Wolff is a genius, Wolff is the originator of the”less is more” theory.

  6. OT: The Raiders are apparently presenting plans for an LA stadium next week. I realize that it probable has more to do with the Chargers then the Raiders, but it’s troubling that the Raiders are even presenting a plan, considering they haven’t actually presented one for Oakland.

    Mr. Kephart, Where are you?

    • @LSN: The San Diego press has reported that San Diego city and county officials are making big progress lately towards financing a new SD Charger stadium – the Carson plan may be fizzling out, leaving Davis with few options ( also St Louis would be a bad choice, they are close to losing their 2nd NFL team in 29 years – St Louis does not evidently support the NFL well)

      • @ duffer
        Thanks for the information, and I agree with you on the St Louis thing. Only problem is St Louis and state officials may fork over more money then Oakland can. But I do agree with the basic premise that St Louis will have lost two teams, so it’s not like the NFL will be in a hurry to get back there.

      • Disagree that St. Louis does not support the NFL well. It has rarely had any winning NFL teams.

        The Cardinals were wretched the vast majority of their time in STL. The Rams have not had a winning season in 11 years and have not made the playoffs in 10 years. They only got in (as a wild card) in 2004 with an 8-8 record because of the overall wretchedness of the NFC that year – not the kind of thing to set the fan base on fire. Their fan base also endured a stretch of 4 out of 5 years in that period when the Rams won 3 games or less (including 1-15 in 2009).

        Nevertheless, the Rams sold out every single game they played in St. Louis from 1995 until an 0-8 start in 2007. Since 2008 the Rams have averaged more than 4,000 attendees per game more than the Raiders despite the Raiders being in playoff contention in 2010 and 2011.

        Considered in context, the record shows St. Louis is a decent NFL market (and, it pains me as a Raider fan to say, a better one than Oakland). If you throw in significant public funding for a new stadium, it’s a great NFL market. That’s the reason the Rams left a much larger market to be there in the first place.

      • @bartleby

        That public financing may be the key.

      • @Neil I agree. I’m very nervous will come up with a significant sum of money that’s not quite enough to deter Kroenke from Inglewood, but enough to lure a desperate Mark Davis out of other good options.

      • Also, for folks saying that St Louis doesn’t have a chance because they will have lost two NFL teams, keep in mind that at this point St Louis is no different than Oakland. Both cities have lost a team and both cities have their current team threatening to move with serious intent shown for other markets. The only difference is that Kroenke has money and the skill set/experience to build on his own.

        If Kroenke owned the Raiders and Davis owned the Rams, odds are Oakland would be the front runner to be the two time loser. To a certain extent, Davis’ incompetence and his dad’s poor decision in regards to teaming up with the 49ers is the only thing keeping Oakland in the game.

      • @bartleby however, the Edward Jones dome is a likely a new facility when when compared most NFL stadiums (twenty three yrs old) compare that to the coliseum Also the rams were super bowl champs in 2001, besides, losing two teams in 29 years ? St Louis would Likely prove to a disaster for the raiders.

      • The Coliseum isn’t a horrible place to watch football. The Raiders need a new stadium no doubt, but the Coliseum isn’t as bad for the Raiders as it is for the A’s.

        The Coliseum is definitely a better stadium for football than Candlestick. With the past few years as the exception, the 49ers and Raiders have been equally as pathetic on the field. Despite having a worse stadium, the 49ers still had an easier time selling seats than the Raiders.

        I haven’t been there so I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that you’re right that the experience of watching a game at Edward Jones is better than at the Coliseum. I don’t think it’s fair to say though that the attendance differences are because of the stadium in this case.

        Like it or not, comparing Oakland to St Louis in terms of a football market is really a toss up. They both have had recent issues selling tickets. They both have lost a team in the past and they both have their current teams threatening to move.

        Only difference is that St Louis/MO might pay for part of a stadium whereas that won’t happen in Oakland. Because of this St Louis is a serious threat.

      • I’m not seeing how the EJD is a real big improvement over the Coliseum. Indeed, it’s a big reason the Rams want out. It’s a giant warehouse, with nothing architecturally distinctive, just three levels all the way around. There are club and suite areas that were nice for 1996, but there are those at the Coliseum as well.

        A new stadium in St. Louis would obviously change this equation, at least in terms of the money-making capabilities (I’m of the opinion that the general non-club experiences at the post-Cowboys Stadium places really suck).

      • @ Slacker and manimalof7 You’re both exactly right. I have been to the Edward Jones Dome and it’s one of those venues that was virtually obsolete at the time it was built (Target Center in MN is another example).

        EJD is a faceless, antiseptic dome with no distinguishing features. The Coliseum may be a crappy old building, but by virtue of being outdoors, with real grass, spectacular weather, and a dynamic tailgating scene, it still offers a better game day experience (for football) than EJD.

        The fact that EJD is a newer building does not explain why St. Louis has outperformed Oakland in attendance from the moment the Rams and Raiders both arrived in 1995. That building is not a selling point.

      • @raider/dave “Also the rams were super bowl champs in 2001, besides, losing two teams in 29 years?”

        The Rams won the Superbowl in 2000 and lost in 2002. The Raiders had a Confererence Championship appearance in 2001 and a Super Bowl appearance in 2003. Though the Rams did slightly better in the playoffs those two years, that doesn’t explain the difference in fan support. The attendance patterns of both teams remained generally the same before and after those events. The Rams were outperforming the Raiders in attendance right from the start in 1995 before any of that stuff happened.

        And as has been pointed out, Oakland is on the verge of losing its second team in 32 years. However, when St. Louis lost the Cardinals they were losing a team that had only 3 playoff appearances in 27 years – all on the road, and all losses. When Oakland lost the Raiders the first time, they were losing the winningest team in professional sports and a two time Superbowl Champion.

        Bottom line, as much as it pains me to say it, St. Louis has a better track record of supporting NFL football than Oakland does.

      • @ bartabley
        As always I pretty much agree with everything you say, but when you say
        “When Oakland lost the Raiders the first time, they were losing the winningest team in professional sports and a two time Superbowl Champion.”,
        It should be noted that when the Raiders left the first time it had nothing to do with poor fan support, because they had sold out games for what I think was a twenty year run. It could also be argued that the Raiders leaving the first time was not due to a lack of support from local politicians, since the city of Oakland was following what then commissioner Pete Rozelle was telling them to do. It wasn’t the best choice on Oakland’s part, but the Raiders leaving probably had more to do with the NFL, then Oakland’s track record. (at least the first time.)

      • @ Neil Your points are fair ones (although I would point out that run of Raider sellouts was at a much lower capacity than the tarp-free capacity that exists today, and even that current capacity is low for an NFL stadium).

        My point was that the argument “if you lose an NFL team twice, you’re not a viable NFL market” is too simplistic and generally not a good argument. Most of the NFL franchise moves we’ve seen have been mostly about stadium issues and very little about attendance issues. You can say, “the Raider run of sellouts for 20 years proves Oakland is a good NFL market.” I would then say, “if that’s true, that just proves than losing an NFL team does not mean you’re a bad market.”

      • @ bartleby
        Yeah, I agree with you. There are many variables, but as you point out it’s, about money, money, money, and if Oakland, Alameda County, or California (to far lesser degree, because we know they are not going to do what other states would do), don’t come up with creative ways (money), to support the Raiders they are gone.
        Another thought on the subject (I’m totally reaching), I noticed after meeting with the Raiders, Oakland, Alameda County, and Floyd Kephart, yesterday there was not nearly the same harsh remarks bandied about by Eric Grubman, as was the day before after his meeting in San Diego about the Chargers situation. I found it to be hopeful, but odd at the same time since Oakland’s idea for coliseum city is simmler to San Diego’s idea for the Chagres. (redevelopment)
        I think this may point to one simple fact; Davis most likely wants to stay in Oakland, while the Chargers simply may not want to stay in San Diego. If that’s true and I admit I’m just guessing here, Davis will need a lot more than his desire to stay in Oakland to get this new stadium built, which gets back to the original point, St louis and the state of Missouri may fork over so much money that what Davis would like to do won’t matter, since he really doesn’t have a lot of money. (By NFL owner’s standers of course)
        Your thoughts?

      • @ Neil My gut feeling is that Davis and the NFL would like to see the Raiders stay in Oakland, even though it may not be the most lucrative market in terms of local revenue.

        For Davis, this would presumably be for sentimental reasons. For the NFL, my guess is this: The NFL is a TV league, in a real way NFL stadia are just big TV studios. The Raiders are an anomaly in that they get lukewarm support in their home market but are wildly popular nationally and globally (which is where the NFL makes most of the money). The City of Oakland is part of the Raiders identity and brand, and the rabid, costume wearing superfans make for great TV. Plus, the Raiders bad boy image might be a hindrance to having them be embraced in other markets.

      • Re: capacity, the Coliseum in the 70’s sat 54,000 and change for football, or slightly above the current tarped setup. They sold out from ’68-’79 (empty seats started to appear in ’80 once it was announced that they wanted to move to LA).

        So they sold out a small stadium with the highest ticket prices in the league for a team that was generally very good. A lot of variables to make any kind of sweeping statement about the quality of the market.

      • @manimalof7 All good points. Not to mention the fact that local population and demographics have changed and the NFL business in general is very different than in was in the 1970s (e.g. higher ticket and concession prices, advent of premium seating, cannibalization of ticket sales by HDTV game broadcasts, greater competition for the entertainment dollar generally, different consumer expectations for the comfort and quality of the game day experience).

        All the more reason why pointing to a market’s past loss of a team as evidence it is a bad market is pretty thin.

      • Duff, the San Diego progress was shot in the back by the NFL this week. The Bolts have basically said they now have no interest in the not even publicly revealed funding strategy yet and no interest in the Mission Valley site. The Chargers are gone from San Diego after this season. Question is will they be shacking up with the Rams or will the Raiders prompt them to move quick enough to cock block the Rams.

      • @Dan: you could be correct about that. It’s odd that the Chargers owner demands that San Diego city and/or county publicly finance 50% or more of the cost of a new stadium – yet is willing to 100% privately finance a new stadium in Carson – go figure.

      • @ differ
        These situations are so fluid and could always change, but with what appears to be a hard stand by the Changers toward San Diego, and the comments made by, Grubman, I just get the feeling that the Chargers don’t want to be in San Diego.

    • “It’s odd that the Chargers owner demands that San Diego city and/or county publicly finance 50% or more of the cost of a new stadium – yet is willing to 100% privately finance a new stadium in Carson – go figure.”

      It’s not odd at all. The Chargers have said there is no market for PSLs in San Diego, but there is in LA. It’s perfectly plausible. The same could be said of Oakland (I’m impressed the Niners were able to make this work on their own in Santa Clara, and am fairly certain the Raiders would not have been able to make it work on their own). All markets are not created equal.

      • @ bartleby
        I’m with bartleby on this, when we are talking about California markets, there is LA and San Francisco, although there is a lot of money in Silicon Valley (San Jose), and to a lesser extent Orange County (Anaheim), even those areas are not going to get the LA, SF treatment.
        Then there are the markets or areas below the second two, there are variables but Oakland, San Diego, and Sacramento are secondary markets, and generally should be expected to be a pay to play city area, it comes to big time sports.
        A person could make various augments, like San Diego has more population and is a tourist destination, whereas Oakland is neither but Oakland is close to San Francisco, and has a lot of population and wealth in its surrounding area.
        So I’m not saying one place better, or more equipped then the other, an argument can be made pro/con for Oakland, San Diego, and Sacramento, but they all are most likely going to have to pay to play, Sacramento already has with the Kings.

      • In the Raiders case, PSL sales would also be hindered by the stench of the 1995 PSL ripoff/debacle (wrote one of the original PSL holders).

      • @bartleby

        Totally agree, and to add to the point its quiet possible that the only reason Oakland is in the running for the Raiders, is because Davis simply wants to get it done there.

  7. Wonder if Lew got HBO Now in time for the SV season premiere?

  8. Has anyone here been to an A’s game this year? Just curious.

  9. Cool! Did you have a good time? What do you think of the new scoreboards?

    They jacked up the premium beer from $11.00 to $11.25! Did you notice? Outrageous!

    Just kidding. The cups are taller and skinnier, but we tested with a cup from last year and the pour is about the same. They ran out of Green Flash on opening night, but I can understand. It is the best beer. Green Flash was back in the line up next evening.

    Donated our 4/12’s to some friends from Seattle, kid’s birthday party – she chose it. I’m counting that as a win. We’re 4-0 at home. Undefeated, baby!

  10. anybody know why wrigley field is still under construction and progressives renovation is finished and has been done for weeks now? is the renovation at wrigley that much larger? heck even go to the browns in the nfl who renovated their stadium in one offseason in between 2013 and the 2014 seasons.

    when is wrigley supposed to be finished? looks like it still has months of work to be done.

    • The Wrigley bleachers were completely torn down to make way for the scoreboards and new bleachers. Nothing significant was torn down at the Jake.

      • yeah but i thought 5 months would be enough time for the tear down and then rebuild to take place. i read that they began the process after the chc season ended in late september of last year.

  11. It sounds like it’s taking longer in Chicago thanks to a mixture of a harsh winter and general Cubs incompetence.

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