Before I moved to Cleveland, I thought you had to be rich to do things like purchase baseball season tickets. And no doubt, such things involve a certain amount of disposable income, but it has a lot to do with how we prioritize our money and time as well.
It's more affordable than you might imagine.
When my husband and I decided to return to Ohio in 2010, a number of benefits gave Cleveland an edge over other cities, and a major league baseball team was one of them. After doing some research, and attending quite a few games at Progressive Field, we became Cleveland Indians season ticket holders in 2013.
We've never regretted our decision to move to Cleveland, where we've put down roots and plan to stay for good. And we've never regretted our Indians season tickets, even when we're feeling sulky after watching a game with a pitching meltdown or an uninspiring offensive performance.
For every outing like that, our memories also hold a Travis Hafner grand slam, or that time 42-year-old Jason Giambi took a headfirst slide into first base.
There's nothing like seeing monumental plays live and in person.
I should probably mention, here, that I do not work for the Cleveland Indians (but hey, front office, give me a call sometime!). I will not be compensated by the organization in any way for what I'm about to write. I'm just a middle-aged suburbanite who wants everyone to know how utterly wonderful it is that we can attend major league baseball games, right in downtown Cleveland.
If you too love all things Cleveland and baseball, read on to learn more about why you should consider becoming a season ticket holder.
1. You don’t have to buy a full season package
Is the thought of attending 81 home games in a season overwhelming? Don't have anyone to split a season ticket package with? You and me both.
Don't worry, though - options abound.
In addition to the full-season packages, Cleveland Indians fans can choose a half-season package (40 games) or a quarter-season package (20 games).
For the quarter-season package, you have the option of weekend or weekday games. Weekday games are less expensive and could be a better option if you regularly have other weekend obligations, like kids’ sporting events or concert tickets.
My husband and I chose the weekday quarter-season plan. I love to attend weekday games because they give me something to look forward to during the work week. I swore a long time ago I’d never live my life like that Loverboy song, whithering away in an office cubicle, only coming to life when Friday night rolled around.
What happens if you can't attend a game? No problem. The Ticket Exchange Program allows season ticket holders to exchange their tickets for another game. You can also transfer them to a friend or family member.
Be aware, though, that you can only sell a certain number of your tickets on Stub Hub before the front office will start to pay attention in a not-so-positive manner. This is thanks to the season ticket holders who made a small fortune selling their World Series packages to Cubs fans in 2016, but that's a story for another day.
2. It’s more affordable than you think
Pro-rated for the remaining home games in 2021, a quarter season plan (consisting of 16-17 games as of May 6th) starts at $416 per seat for the Upper Box and bleachers. But that's not even the best part!
Extended payment plans are available, interest-free.
This feature, combined with the option for partial-season plans, sold me on becoming a season ticket holder back in 2013. We might not always have the cash available to pay hundreds of dollars upfront but a no-interest payment plan that spreads the cost across several months makes season ticket packages more accessible to more fans.
And again, it often has to do with prioritization. I tend to be a frugal person. I spend little money on clothing or technology. I drive a 2012 Impreza. I don't buy Starbucks every day. But I do like to go to baseball games and I like to buy a nice craft beer when I'm there.
3. Tribe Rewards Program and additional benefits
Cleveland Indians season ticket holders earn points for various activities, such as attending a game or purchasing concessions. These points add up throughout the season and can be redeemed for merchandise and activities. We’ve used our points for everything from bobbleheads to t-shirts to spending an inning in the press box with my idols, Tribe radio announcers Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus!
We also get a 20% discount on merchandise and a 10% discount on dining at the Terrace Club. When we take advantage of Early Bird renewal of our season ticket plan, we get a loaded value (usually between $2 and $5, depending on the level of the plan) applied to each ticket for use at concession stands as a food or drink discount.
In addition, season ticket holders are privy to special events like the annual appreciation day at Progressive Field. It remains to be seen what this will look like in 2021 (the Indians got creative in 2020 by allowing season ticket holders to drive up and receive a special grab bag of merchandise in lieu of an in-person party) but past events have included free food and the opportunity to interact with and get autographs from players.
This year, the Indians are hosting a baseball-themed beer and libation festival at Progressive Field in late July. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Season ticket holders will be able to purchase tickets before everyone else.
4. Access to Opening Day and Postseason tickets
Cleveland Indians full season packages (in normal years) include Opening Day tickets. Partial packages don’t, but you get early access to purchase your tickets before they are available to the general public.
Season ticket holders also have the option to buy tickets to postseason games, with the level of access based on what type of season ticket plan you have.
In 2016, my husband and I bought postseason strips - meaning, we had tickets to every postseason home game. If a game wasn’t played (i.e. the Wild Card) we got our choice of a refund after the postseason ended, or credit toward next year’s plan.
While the World Series didn’t end the way we wanted, I’ll never forget the feeling of being at Progressive Field, hugging strangers after Rajai Davis' game-tying home run in Game 7.
5. Nail down your favorite seats
Do you prefer to be on the aisle? Love the club seats with myriad food choices and a private bar? Want to be in the view boxes where you can watch the plays unfold from the upper level? As season ticket holders, you know where you’ll be sitting for every game you attend, and you'll keep your seats from year to year (unless you choose to change them).
We’ve been hanging out in the same section since 2013 and have gotten to know some of the other season ticket holders in our area. It’s fun to chat with them at games and cheer on the Indians together.
We love walking the upper deck between innings, looking out over our beloved adopted city of Cleveland, remembering the many reasons we've chosen to live here.
For more information about becoming a season ticket holder, visit https://www.mlb.com/indians/tickets/season-tickets/new#benefits