Continuing my trend of visiting midwestern cities (not on purpose) we whisked away to Cleveland for a night. My dad’s 60th birthday was motivation to go see the White Sox play the Indians at Progressive Field and visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both which were parts of a family trip back in 1996.
Unsurprisingly Cleveland in early April, like Chicago, was cold and wet. We stayed just outside of downtown, and Progressive Field is in the middle of downtown Cleveland. It is right next door to the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play, and the two facilities share parking structures. There are no parking lots like at U.S. Cellular Field or lots of other baseball stadiums, but garages do serve to offer some advantages. A couple of the garages are connected directly to the stadium and getting from your car into the game takes literally 2 minutes, instead of half mile jaunt across a big concrete parking lot you find other places.
Progressive Field is laid out like many other newer baseball stadiums, where the it is open so that tall buildings of the city are visible beyond the outfield. There is a massive scoreboard in left field with a great, crisp, video screen. It’s difficult to determine if there are any blind spots to the scoreboard besides the seats directly below it, but it doesn’t seem like it. It definitely makes the scoreboards at U.S Cellular Field look their age1. The park is clean, and concession and bathroom lines were non-existent. That tends to happen though when the announced attendance is under 15,000. It’s difficult to determine if this would be the case during a sellout.
The variety of concessions seemed pretty good. Two highlights for us were two of the Food Network stands. One served a variety of macaroni and cheese options (a Hippo favorite), including one with buffalo chicken and bleu cheese, one with pulled pork and smoked sausage and one with crab meat. These each ran $6 and provided a decent amount for that price at a ballgame. The other Food Network stand offered large hot dogs and sausages on gourmet buns with a variety of toppings that are available. The hot dog with pulled pork was simply amazing. This includes potato chips as well and ran $9.50. Again, decently priced for the amount of food it provides2.
There was a great selection of beers and other food as well. It happened to be $1 hot dog day, and these were available at most food stands, but not all which meant that the non-$1 hot dog stands were free of lines. They offer frozen custard, which my sister braved despite the 40 degree temperature. They also had steak sandwiches and nachos which looked good, but we didn’t partake in. Of the best parts of the food stands is that many of them had samples of the food set out so that you could see exactly what you were getting before you ordered it. This was a nice touch that more parks should copy.
Getting out the park was a bit cumbersome, especially considering the park was nearly empty. The lines in the parking garages were long and most of them funnel to the same street. It still didn’t take as long to get to un-congested areas as it does at U.S. Cellular Field, but if the stadium was more full it likely would have been much different.
Saturday included a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My dad and I are huge rock fans and we were both looking forward to this part of the trip. The bottom floor is comprised of the history of rock music, including influencers and a timeline of how the genre evolved. There were plenty of cool pieces of memorabilia, but lots of bands were under represented (see Zeppelin, Led.) The second floor has a small exhibit about Cleveland resident Alan Freed and his influence on promoting rock music3, as well as a little bit on Les Paul and his progress with the electric guitar. The third floor houses a large theatre that plays clips chronologically on a loop of inductees from each year. It’s really not anything special and spending too much time on this is probably unnecessary4. The circular stairway that goes to the 4th floor houses the signatures of every inductee, and apparently is the only representation of the complete list of inductees in the place.
Unlike other hall of fames, there doesn’t seem to be a plaque or blurb about each inductee. It seems like a strange decision, that perhaps is a result of just too many inductees, but that would be a silly reason. This was probably the most disappointing thing about the visit, the simple fact that if you wanted to see if a certain band had been inducted, there didn’t seem to be a way to do that. The connected hallway at the end of the signatures has sections for the inductees for the current year. This includes a little summary of the artist as well as bunch of memorabilia, the exact thing I would have expected to see for each and every inductee.
Before we headed out of town, we had planned to hit Melt Bar and Grilled, a Cleveland chain with a few locations that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese. We had heard from some people that it tends to be crowded and have incredibly long waits. The wait at 4 pm on Saturday was over an hour, which is preposterous. Luckily an employee at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had recommended an alternative, Eddie ’n Eddies, right across the street. The marquee advertises burgers, bourbon and apple pie. We all tried different things, although almost everyone had a beef burger of some sort. I actually went with the buffalo chicken sandwich which was ground chicken made into a patty. The consistency was stupendous and made it much more enjoyable than just putting a chicken breast on a sandwich. The fries were very good and they had several great dessert options. The pecan pie and Spumoni were both heaven. Although we had been looking forward to Melt, we were more than satisfied with our choice.
Overall Cleveland was an enjoyable trip. Progressive Field is right up there in my top five baseball stadiums with AT&T in San Francisco and Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a bit of a disappointment for anyone who wanted to learn something, but great for people who already know all the names and faces. Eddie ’n Eddies is a great alternative to the length wait at one of the Melt locations. And the drive from Cleveland to Chicago is as boring as it gets.