Cleveland Sets the Pace

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BY JEFF HARWOOD

Cleveland Free Times, August 27, 1998

"November 2, 1987 is a date that changed Cleveland's history. It was on this date that Cleveland Indians' owner Richard Jacobs gathered the town's news media and announced to the world his team would be moving into a stadium at the proposed Gateway site. The facility would be small, intimate and have natural grass. No dome.

That announcement set the city's establishment, which had been hoping to build a combined baseball-football facility, on its ears. That evening announcement at the old Stouffers Inn-on-the-Square put an end to the concept of shared sports venues in Cleveland, and throughout the United States.

Now, nearly 11 years later, Cleveland, a city with 40 percent of its population living in poverty, has forked over nearly $1 billion building two new stadiums and an indoor arena for some of the richest men in America to use.

... Before President Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch at the Jake, team owner and ballpark namesake Jacobs jacked up ticket prices 39 percent.

... [Jacobs could] keep all of the marbles including the 123 sky-boxes and "dugout boxes," which brought in about $100,000 each not including the cost of the tickets. Additionally, 2,058 club seats, renting for $1,215 in '94, an amenity that was missing in the old stadium, also brought cash, and a lot of it, Jacobs' way.

Keep in mind that the team holds the Major League Baseball record of selling out 42,000 seats on some 275 consecutive dates. ... Plus, by playing in a smaller ballpark, the created and mythical aura of scarce tickets becomes a reality. After all, it is not in an owner's best interest to have game day tickets available for sale. ...

Copyright © 1998, Cleveland Free Times (Hummingbird Press)

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