PROGRESSIVE FIELD, previously named Jacobs Field at 2401 Ontario Street, was opened in 1994 as part of the new Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex intended to revitalize downtown Cleveland. In addition to Jacobs Field, Gateway Sports also includes the GUND ARENA as home of CLEVELAND CAVALIERS basketball and other sports and entertainment events. Jacobs Fields and Gund Arena were the first sports facilities in the United States to be constructed simultaneously at the same location. Jacobs Field was the first baseball-only facility used regularly by the CLEVELAND INDIANS since 1947, when the team ceased using LEAGUE PARK and moved all their games to the multipurpose CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM. Events leading to the creation of the new ballpark included the May 1984 defeat by Cuyahoga County voters of a property tax increase for public funding of a new domed stadium in downtown Cleveland. In the winter of 1984-5, business and civic leaders met to develop alternative plans for a new sports facility. CLEVELAND TOMORROW, an organization comprised of top executives from Clevelands 50 largest companies, created a development fund to help launch the project, and aquisition of property began in December 1985. Sports teams agreed to design objectives in April 1986 and demolition at the site began in June 1987. In May 1990 county voters passed a 15-year sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes to help finance the complex. The tax involved various surcharges, such as 1.9 cents on a can of beer and 4.5 cents on a pack of cigarettes. and the next month MAYOR MICHAEL WHITE and County Commissioner Tim Hagan created the GATEWAY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORP., a non-profit organization, to adminster the project, marking it formally as a public-private partnership. The Gateway Board of Trustees signed a 20-year baseball park lease with the Cleveland Indians in July 1991. In January of 1992, demolition of the site was completed and groundbreaking for Jacobs Field began. In June of 1992, Mel Harder, Charles Nagy, and Sandy Alomar executed the ceremonial first pitch. Installation of seating was completed in October 1993. President Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch at the opening game between the Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners on April 4, 1994.
In January of 2008, the franchise entered a sixteen year agreement with Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance for naming rights to Jacobs Field at an average annual cost of $3.6 million. As part of the deal, Progressive also gained sponsorship rights as the official auto insurer of the team.
Designer HOK Sports Facilities Group took pains to include features most desired by fans and to incorporate best elements of other U.S. ballparks while reflecting Cleveland's unique culture, spirit, and architectural landscape. Bounded by main downtown Cleveland streets of Ontario to the west, Carnegie to the south, and E. 9th street to the east, the ballpark features an exposed steel design with vertical light towers and uniquely angled seating sections beyond the dugouts for greater spectator comfort. Gateway was the first sports complex in the country to display a significant collection of public art, including "Meet Me Here," a seating element near Quicken Loans Arena's front entrance and "Who's On First?" near Jacobs Field, both by artist Nancy Dwyer, and a ceramic tile bench near the basketball arena, by Angelica Pozo and Penny Rakoff, suggesting the history of the Gateway site through photos and other archival materials. The ballpark has a Kentucky blue grass surface, a 19 foot fence at left field and 8 foot fences at center and right fields, a seating capacity of 43,368, and 40 restrooms. The total cost of Jacobs Field's construction was $175 million, with $84 million or 48 percent provided by taxpayers and $91 million or 52 percent by Indians owner Richard E. Jacobs. In the ballpark's opening year, attendance averaged 39,121 fans per game. Money magazine, in its Oct. 1995 issue, ranked Jacobs Field as the best fan value in major league sports. The new ballpark was the site of the 1995 World Series, which the Indians lost to the Atlanta Braves, the 1997 World Series, which the Indians lost to the Florida Marlins, and the 1997 All-Star game.
Prior to the 2007 season, the Indians added a monument to honor past players entitled Heritage Park. The two-tiered monument is situated next to the home bullpen, with one level dedicated to Indians players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and another dedicated to players in the Indians Hall of fame.
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