Initiatives introduced to improve Indians' atmosphere

Initiatives introduced to improve Indians' atmosphere

Initiatives introduced to improve Indians' atmosphere
CLEVELAND -- Indians president Mark Shapiro believes the Tribe will give fans plenty to cheer about as the team chases a spot in the postseason.

"We're in the heart of summer, and you have a team that has been in first place -- or contending for first place -- more than any team in our division the last two years, and we think more people will come out and be part of it," Shapiro said.

On Friday, the Indians announced the introduction of a series of fan-focused initiatives at Progressive Field. Shapiro believes these new ballpark experiences will be like the level of baseball the Tribe will play in the second half of the season -- too good to miss.

The Indians have developed a partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which will allow family discounts for the RTA's red, blue, and green lines. It will also provide a shuttle bus for weekend games from Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood to Progressive Field.

"Today was about ensuring there are less barriers for our fans during the playoff push in the second half, that parking and accessibility are not barriers, making it more attainable from a value standpoint," Shapiro said.

"Our driving commitment is to make the fans the focus of all our actions. Our main focus is to win a World Series, to make sure fans can be a part of the experience at the ballpark."

The initiative will start off with the Indians' first homestand of the second half of the season, as the RTA's red, blue, and green lines and the Healthline will offer free transportation for fans who have a ticket to one of Cleveland's games against the Orioles from July 20-22.

The shuttle bus service, which will leave from the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue in Ohio City, near shuttle partners Great Lakes Brewing Company and Bar Cento, will also be free that weekend.

Additionally, fans who purchase advance tickets using the password "parking" will get a voucher to park in the Gateway East Garage, while availability lasts. The Gateway East Garage is adjacent to Progressive Field.

Family RTA passes, which will cover transportation for two adults and up to four children ages 16 and under, will cost $10. The shuttle will cost $1 round trip, and will operate in addition to the Great Lakes "Fatty Wagon" shuttle, which also costs $1 for the round trip.

Shapiro said the team interviewed fans, conducted surveys and held focus groups to identify the issues most pressing to Tribe fans. Aside from how the standings look, Shapiro said, accessibility and parking were top concerns, along with values at the concession stand.

For the rest of the season, Shapiro announced, $8 combo meals will be available at all of Progressive Field's "Ballpark Classic" concession stands. One will consist of a hot dog, 16-ounce Pepsi, and a large popcorn. The other meal pairs a brat with a 12-ounce beer.

"We want to make a baseball game an experience that everyone can have," Shapiro said. "We want to make it not only the game, but the experience. Baseball is an experience that often has to do with some of the classic sights and smells and tastes that go on at a ballgame."

Although fans identified the issues, Shapiro said, the team developed the solutions.

"I think the research doesn't determine what the results will be, but it does tell you where the barriers will be," Shapiro said. "As you look to run a business, you look to break down the barriers, the reasons people might not come to a game.

"Today's efforts are a way to do that. I don't think one day gets that done. We'll continue to build off today."

Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.