JACOBS, RICHARD E. “Dick” Jacobs (16 June 1925-5 June 2009) was a successful real estate developer and the owner of the CLEVELAND INDIANS from 1986 to 1999
Jacobs was born in Akron, the son of V. R. Jacobs, and began his career peeling potatoes at Swensons. He graduated from Buchtel High School in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army in World War II. After the war, he went to Indiana University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business.
Jacobs, his brother DAVID and Dominic Visconsi formed what became the Richard E. Jacobs Group in 1955. The company, based in Westlake, developed property including Westgate Mall in FAIRVIEW PARK, Belden Village Mall in Canton, Midway Mall in Elyria, SouthPark Center in STRONGSVILLE and the Chagrin Highlands office park in BEACHWOOD. The Jacobs company reshaped the landscape of downtown with the Galleria at ERIEVIEW and the Society (now Key) Tower on the Mall, the tallest building in Ohio. By 1992, the Jacobs Group was ranked the fourth biggest mall developer in the country, and in 1997, his fortune was estimated around $380 million.
In 1986, Jacobs and his brother David bought the Indians for $40 million from the estate of STEVE O’NEILL – and when the team was in serious danger of leaving Cleveland. The Indians moved to a new baseball-only ballpark (see: PROGRESSIVE FIELD) in 1994, and Jacobs bought the naming rights. For the next five years, Jacobs watched from his loge behind home plate as the Indians, once the laughingstock of the league, won five straight division titles and two pennants, in 1995 and 1997.
Following the 1999 season, Jacobs sold the team to Larry Dolan, who still owns the team today. Jacobs died at his WESTLAKE home in 2009 – one year after the ballpark that bore his name was renamed Progressive Field. He had a son, Jeff, and two daughters, Nancy and Marilyn Preyer. He is buried at Lakewood Park Cemetery.