On Friday night, I had the distinct pleasure to attend the Minnesota Twins/Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field as a guest of the team.


I joined several other social media heavyweights in the Cleveland area in a very nice little enclosure next to the bleacher area on the edge of the Home Run Porch.


The first question on everyone’s minds appeared to be, “Why are we here?”


The answer to that was simple, “We want to reach out to you guys,” said Rob Campbell of the Indians Public Relations Department.


In short, the upper management of the organization is well aware the fan base has been burnt pretty badly the last few years, and that trading away two Cy Young Award-winners, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, in consecutive years just didn’t sit well with a lot of people.


The Indians lost Game 7 of the ALCS in 2007 after being up 3-1 in the series going into Game 5. It was all downhill after that, and the hostility on the call-in shows, online forums and chatrooms has been relentless.


Going into 2010, the Indians have a new manager, Manny Acta, and a bunch of new faces as the campaign goes through its early stages.


Tuesday night will be another large gathering of social media in the bleachers, and word is being spread among Twitterverse. Check @tribetalk to see the latest updates from the PR staff.


This past weekend wasn’t the only time the team intends to reach out to the fans, it’s going to be a season-long endeavor. The team constructed the “Social Media” deck and seats will be able to be obtained through an application process, or an invite from the team.


The application process still was being worked out, but is supposed to go live on the Indians Web site sometime very soon, if not this week.


The team also has taken one of the Loge boxes and turned it into a “Fan Cave.” The Loge features a pool table, wall-to-wall flatscreen TVs, and the opposing team’s logo on the toilet paper in the bathroom.


Every team goes through ups and downs, and Cleveland fans know all to well about the “downs.” The effort I saw on Friday night was genuine and I hope more people get to see what I saw as the season goes on.


Of course, it helps if the Indians can start winning more games, but that should go without saying.


But, since I have this forum, I will make a few suggestions to the Indians various marketing and sales departments about making it more attractive for the fans to come down to the ballpark when the season isn’t going so well.


1.Make the food cheaper– I understand the basic economics of concessions, but paying more than $4 for a hot dog is excessive, especially in today’s economy. No one should have to plan going to games around a Dollar Dog Night.


For a family of four, averaging two hot dogs per person, that’s more than $40, and we haven’t even gotten to pretzels or drinks yet.


2. Make the Drinks Cheaper– Now we’re at drinks, the non-alcoholic variety, which also were in excess of $4 a cup, including bottled water, and that was for a medium. Large drinks were north of $5. Alcohol is its own animal I’m not bothering to address.


Now you’re really piling on the money for a family of four and making it cost-prohibitive for a family that may only have $20-30 to spend on entertainment. Going to a game then becomes something the family has to “save for.”


And that’s about it because the ballpark “experience” at Progressive Field really is top notch. There really is not a bad seat in the house, and I’ve sat all over that stadium since it opened in 1994.


For those who are interested, the Indians did lose Friday night, I didn’t catch a homerun, but I still had a great time. Thanks again to the Indians Public Relations Department for the invite.


The catch by Grady Sizemore pictured above was every bit as spectacular as it looked.

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