Clevelanders have to find some sort of enjoyment out of our winters — even if it’s somewhat begrudgingly — because our 5+ months of cold weather are fairly long and snowy. Be it sledding, snow ball fights, or just warming yourself by a fire, there are plenty of nice things the snow brings to balance out the bad. And, with the first annual Cleveland Indians Snow Days (which runs until Jan. 2), the Tribe is embracing all of that while finding a unique and resourceful way to use the stadium during the off-season.
Usually if you hear snow and baseball in the same sentence, it’s because a game got postponed or moved. However, with Snow Days, the Indians have intentionally transformed Progressive Field into a winter wonderland filled with snow tubing, ice skating and a winter-themed playground. Snopening Day was this past Friday, complete with fireworks and festivities (castmembers from A Christmas Story were in attendance as part of the weekend’s Christmas Story convention). Scott and I got our first taste of Snow Days when we went on Sunday night to close out the holiday weekend.
Indians Snow Days is a first-of-its-kind event. Although baseball teams have repurposed their stadiums during the offseason for hockey and the like, this is the first time a professional team’s home has been transformed in such a way. There are three main areas for play: the Winter Haven and Slider’s Snow Zone; the Batterhorn Snow Tubing lanes; and the Frozen Mile ice skating track. All three areas are located on the baseball field and getting to hang out right where the Indians play is a treat in itself.
The Winter Haven and Slider’s Snow Zone featured a kids’ play area and walking trail complete with snow ball fights, corn maze and Christmas tree display. Of course, some of the adults got in on the snow ball flinging action (myself and Scott included). To produce enough snow the park is currently being pumped with the mix you find at a ski resort — which was more than fine for a November opening weekend; however, I’m definitely looking forward to going back after we’ve had a couple snowstorms in Downtown Cleveland.
The Frozen Mile is a quarter-mile ice track that circles the field and at one point runs beneath the snow tubing hill. It’s actually unique to the United States and only the second of its kind in North America. Tickets for ice skating include skate rentals — which weren’t just any cheap pair of skates. These were brand-new, quality pieces of equipment. There was also a Rookie Rink for those like Scott and I who haven’t really ice skated before. We tried our hand at skating on the Rookie Rink before slowly pulling ourselves around the Frozen Mile (thank god for the safety bars lining the track!). I was horrible at ice skating but loved being able to skate out to center field and through the Christmas-light-covered tunnel beneath the snow tubing hill. My favorite part, though, was the fact that I didn’t fall at all while skating — in fact, my only tumble of the day was sadly in Slider’s Snow Zone when I slipped down a hill of ice and took a not-so-graceful fall in front of a small crowd of laughing kids.
While I’ll leave the ice skating to those who know how to do it, it was the Batterhorn snow tubing hill that was the highlight of my evening. Snow tubing tickets include 2 hours of access to the series of lanes extending from the left-field bleachers onto the outfield at Progressive Field. The hill is 60 feet long and catapults you down a thrilling, slick, and bumpy ride to the bottom (there’s a children’s hill as well). Some lanes were faster than others — I was warned to hold on especially tight when I ventured into lane 2. Hold on tight, indeed. The drop at the end momentarily launched me into the air. I loved every moment of it.
If you’re there for a while, you’ll want to take a break from the cold. The Tribe have set up a couple warm retreats with a fire pit on the Home Run Porch above left field as well as the Indians home dugout, which will be fitted with heaters. They have a menu of park food, snacks and drinks so you can grab a bag of peanuts and Cracker Jack or a hot dog and cup of chili.
All of this comes at a reasonable price. To experience all of Indians Snow Days — two hours on Batterhorn and unlimited admission to the Snow Zone and Frozen Mile — it costs only $25. If you’re bringing a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids), they offer a $100 family ticket that includes full access and a $10 food/drink credit. However, there’s flexibility in their ticket pricing, as they also offer General Admission Only tickets (Slider’s Snow Zone/Access to food areas) for just $5, General Admission and Unlimited Frozen Mile for $10, or General Admission and 2 Hours on Batterhorn for $20. No matter what level of ticket you buy, it really is a fantastic value.
I’d say all of this is enough to make any snow-loving Clevelander or tourist happy. But, to top it all off, the staff at Progressive Field were extremely friendly and helpful. Their amazing customer service was the biggest factor in making it a successful experience. Specifically, I’d like to thank every single person who helped me out during my lost ticket debacle:
When Scott and I entered the park, we didn’t grab one of the ties to attach the sticker ticket to our coat zippers. Learn from my mistake — be sure to not just ‘stick’ the ticket on your coat. Somewhere between my first trip down Batterhorn and getting in line for my second trip, my ticket unstuck itself from the front of my coat and I lost it. Fearing the rest of my night was ruined now that I didn’t have my snowtubing/ice skating combo pass, I was pretty downtrodden.
Fortunately, Scott tracked down a member of the Batterhorn staff who tracked down a manager. They not only radioed up to the person manning the line so that I could temporarily keep snow tubing without a ticket, they also printed a new ticket, got us a pair of the zipper ties (so that I wouldn’t lose it a second time), and tracked me down to give them to me. I didn’t even lose any time enjoying tubing. It really was customer service that went above and beyond — deserving of a huge Clue Into Cleveland thank you.
Cleveland Indians Snow Days is just another example of what I love about this city — a creative resourcefulness in introducing people to new experiences downtown and beyond. Here we have a unique and innovative concept that was executed perfectly — creating a winter entertainment destination that everyone can enjoy. And with a family friendly setting, it’s welcoming a new generation of young fans to the Tribe’s home on E 9th St.
Cleveland professional sports have hit their fair share of speed bumps in the past – not always ending up in the news for the best of reasons. However, with Snow Days, the Indians have brought a first-of-its-kind experience to the city that’s deserving of a spotlight on the national stage.
Cleveland Indians Snow Days 411: