Jacobs Field is one of the most beautiful ballparks in America. It sits spectacularly in the middle of downtown Cleveland, surrounded by high-rise buildings and, of all things, Quicken Loans Arena, home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s within walking distance to the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where I was once given a T-shirt with the words “If I can hear it, it’s too loud!” by my 13-year-old grandson. This was during the 2004 Baseball Tour we took that included a Cleveland Indians game at Jacobs Field. We arrived at the ballpark early and walked around the stadium taking pictures and enjoying the fantastic views of the skyline and other parts of the city, from inside the stadium. The design of the stadium gives you an intimate feeling of a small ballpark because every seat is a great seat and you’re almost on top of the field no matter where you’re sitting. I mention all of this because, back in 2004, I remember mentioning to Dan Lindsey, Diamond Baseball Tours owner, what a shame it was to have this spectacular ballpark and no one’s there. This was a day game in the middle of June, and the weather was beautiful, and still, where’s the fans? And this was back in 2004, when attendance was still relatively good.
I mention this because today the Cleveland Indians have the best record in Major League Baseball. Well, okay, they’re tied with the Phillies, but still. And they’ve maintained this standing from almost the beginning of opening day. For the past two years they’ve finished 4th in their division, but not this year. This year they’re all by themselves at the top. And still ….. no fans! Cleveland is a diverse sports town. They have it all; Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, Soccer. Could it be that they’re probably the smallest city to host three professional sports franchises and, therefore, are not able to sustain them? But a lot of cities have this same mix and are able to bring the fans to the ballpark. Baseball, in general, is thriving throughout the rest of the country.
Last summer we met a couple from Ohio, and they were bemoaning the state of baseball in Cleveland. The die-hard fans are in constant worry they’re going to lose the franchise. What causes this? Why Cleveland? Opening day this year showed a sell-out crowd of over 42,000 and now, five weeks later, they’re showing less than 10,000 a game. A really great blog about Cleveland and Ohio in general is entitled “WFNY”,”Waiting for Next Year“. An article from that website, written by Jon Steiner on April 5, offers some light on the subject. Jon’s currently investigating the claim that “the Indians are a real team, with uniforms and everything.”
You don’t have to convince the rest of us. You just have to convince the fans.