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One-on-one: Andrew Miller, senior vice president of strategy and business analytics, Cleveland Indians

Andrew Miller, senior vice president of strategy and business analytics for the Cleveland Indians, speaks about the renovations being made to Progressive Field

 

2014 saw Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians celebrate the 20th anniversary of its stadium, Progressive Field. And with that milestone came the announcement that the venue was to receive the most comprehensive set of modifications since opening in 1994. Dubbed 'The Progressive Field Evolution', these privately funded changes include a completely revamped Gate C entrance, new bullpens among the seats beyond the right-center-field wall, and enhanced social gathering spaces for adults and kids alike.

With the project scheduled for completion in time for the Indians' home opener on April 10 against the Detroit Tigers, Stadia caught up with Andrew Miller, the Indians' senior vice president of strategy and business analytics, to find out how far along the evolutionary ladder Progressive Field is.

The capacity of Progressive Field is being reduced from 43,000 to between 37,000-38,000 in order to place more focus on group gathering spaces rather than seats and suites. How will you make up the revenue losses incurred as a result of the reduced capacity?
Our goal is to make more effective use of the space in our ballpark to create compelling experiences for fans in order to drive increased attendance. The expectations for the ballpark experience have evolved for fans – both our fans, and fans more globally – since Progressive Field first opened over 20 years ago. In order to create these compelling experiences, we spent nearly four years researching trends in ballpark and venue design, as well as how fans interact with these venues. We found that fans want a more socially connected experience, more targeted amenities, better connections both between the city and the ballpark and the ballpark and the field, and increased celebration of team history and heritage.

How will you add value to the current cost of an Indians ticket?
We intend to make the newly renovated areas of the ballpark open to all fans with a ticket to the game, providing all fans with the opportunity to experience the new areas. These new amenities will provide fans with more access to on-field action, authentic Cleveland food and beverage, access to watch the game from the former visiting team’s bullpen, a new two-story bar with indoor/outdoor views of the field, and a family concourse with new interactive games and a two-story indoor kids area overlooking the field.

Of all the changes being made to Progressive Field, which are you most excited about?
I am excited about all of the new attractions, but perhaps most exciting to me will be the completely new atmosphere created in the Right Field District of the ballpark.

What types of innovative new technologies are being introduced to Progressive Field and will any of them bolster the fan experience?
In recent years we have made an effort to bolster the fan experience through new technologies at Progressive Field, including the introduction of a DAS/wi-fi system last season. With the new renovations, there will be technology added that will enhance fans’ interactions with each other and the action on the field. The family area will also include a number of unique interactive experiences driven by the use of technology.

What have been the biggest challenges regarding these renovations?
With any project of this magnitude there are challenges. Perhaps the biggest is the inherent timing challenge of completing construction in a compressed time period during the off-season when the Cleveland weather is cold and snowy. The construction teams and all of the people working on the project deserve a lot of credit for their efforts despite the weather conditions.

In total, how much is this project costing and will it be delivered on time and to budget?
The project is on time and on budget to date. This is a significant, privately funded investment into Progressive Field made with our fans in mind, financed through the commitment by our concessionaire partner, Delaware North Companies, and our ownership, the Dolan family.

Which architects, designers and contractors are you working with?
We have worked with a number of top firms on this project including Gilbane Building Company (construction manager), Weber Murphy Fox (architect), Populous (architecture/design services) and Chase Design (design services). Additionally, our concessionaire, Delaware North Companies, has partnered with us on the project.

Have any of the renovations been benchmarked against or inspired by other sports venue renovations?
We spent approximately four years researching prior to beginning these renovations. In addition to touring approximately two dozen MLB ballparks, football, basketball, hockey venues, we also worked closely with the architect and designers to understand the latest trends in venue design. Finally, we spent significant time understanding our fans’ interests through focus groups and surveys conducted throughout the process.

These renovations are being made 20 years after Progressive Field first opened and represent the most comprehensive modifications made to the venue. How long do you foresee it being until such an overhaul needs to be made again?
We are already working on a second phase of the renovations that will begin after the 2015 season to be completed prior to opening day 2016. We are committed to preserving and enhancing Progressive Field and want the next generation of fans to create memories at the ballpark similar to those the previous generation has experienced over the past 20 years.


To see an artist's impression of the fully renovated Progressive Field, visit http://www.stadia-magazine.com/imagegallery.php now!

 

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