NEWS

Indians' ballpark renamed Progressive Field

Andy Call

Former Indians owner Dick Jacobs never really cared much for “The Jake,” the nickname informally assigned to the baseball facility in which his team played. Jacobs once explained that, when he was a boy, “jake” was youthful slang for a toilet.

Perhaps Jacobs will take some comfort, then, that Indians fans must now find another nickname for Cleveland’s ballpark. Progressive Insurance has entered into a 16-year, $58 million naming-rights agreement with the club to rename Jacobs Field to Progressive Field.

“I’m sure the fans’ thinking about this place as being something other than Jacobs Field will take a while,” Indians President Paul Dolan said. “But I’m also sure that, in due time, Progressive Field will also have its place in the fans’ psyche.”

Those entering Cleveland via the East 9th Street exit drive by the large Jacobs Field sign on the corner next to the ballpark. That sign will be replaced, as will nearly 1,000 others around the park. Dolan said those signs will not all be changed until the All-Star break, and that the club must spend an estimated $1.2 million to replace them.

Progressive Corp., located in Mayfield Village, Ohio will pay an average of $3.6 million per year for the rights through 2023, when the Indians’ lease with Gateway expires. That annual amount will be among the highest in all of Major League Baseball. The Houston Astros receive $6 million annually at Minute Maid Park. A comparable pact to Cleveland’s is U.S. Cellular’s $3.4 million agreement with the Chicago White Sox through 2025.

Dolan said the money will go into the club’s general fund to help fund player salaries, stadium upkeep and player development.

Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick said that the naming rights constitutes about 1 percent of Progressive’s annual advertising and marketing budget.

“It feels great to have two very successful Cleveland institutions doing something that I think is extremely constructive for Northeast Ohio,” Renwick said.

The Indians have been actively seeking a company to purchase the naming rights for nearly two years, hiring Cleveland-based IMG to assist in finding a partner.

“I would describe the process as exhausting,” Dolan said.

Dick and David Jacobs paid $10 million for the naming rights that ran from 1994 through 2006.

“Many great memories were forged here,” Dolan said. “Those memories do not go away, nor does the legacy of Dick Jacobs leave Progressive Field. Those memories, and his legacy, will always be part of the Cleveland Indians franchise.”

Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail andy.call@cantonrep.com