Progressive Field unveils new food and betting as Guardians open 2023 season
The Cleveland Guardians kick off the 2023 season Thursday night, on the road against the Seattle Mariners. Earlier in the day, at Progressive Field, the team rolled out new food, promotional and souvenir offerings that will be available when the team has their home opener next week, also against the Mariners.
Curtis Danburg, vice president of communications for the Guardians, introduced the new additions, along with Progressive Field's Executive Chef Vishwatej Nath, while the stadium scoreboard visible through the window showed a hopeful opening day score of 35-0 (in the first inning alone) for the Guardians.
New food items include Crab Rangoon Nachos with shredded imitation crab, sweet chili sauce, and cheddar cheese over Tostitos chips. Melt Bar and Grilled in right field will feature the Melt Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese Bowl.
There are also new meatless options available.
"You know, we introduced the plant-based toppings last year for many locations. It didn't kick off as much as we would have liked," Nath said. "So we said we still want to keep the theme going. So we worked with Happy Dog and we kind of came up together with the The Wild Thing."
The Wild Thing features a vegetarian brat with vegetarian chili, cheddar and onions, and looks like something Wild Thing Rick Vaughn would eat before taking the mound, with its final ingredient sprinkled on top: Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
Betting at the ballpark
In addition to the new food offerings, the stadium is partnering with Bet365 on a multiyear deal to make the online betting giant the exclusive mobile betting partner of the Guardians. BetFanatics Sportsbook will be running the in-person retail sportsbook that will open outside the right field gate this summer.
In addition to new ways to spend money at the ballpark, the team unveiled a few new ways to save as well.
Ninety-five percent of the team's 81 home games this season will feature tickets available for $20 or less, and 40 of those games will feature some sort of promotion.
Among the new promotional giveaways will be Free Shirt Fridays for the first 12,500 fans each Friday all summer.
Additional promotions include Mystery Gold Glove day on May 13, Andrés Giménez bobblehead day on June 24 and José Ramiréz Reversible Bucket Hat day on July 8.
Also new to the souvenir stores this year will be an exclusive team up between the Guardians and Cleveland Public Schools. The Guardians Chess Club shirts grew out of an organic love of chess that Guardians star Steven Kwan brought to the clubhouse. Several of his teammates started playing with him and now it's a clubhouse ritual. Kwan and others have even played with chess clubs at schools in the area.
"Chess is a huge passion of mine, and I've been extremely fortunate to play against some of the best that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has to offer over the last year," Kwan said in a press release.
Kwan will be signing shirts for the first 100 people in line at the team store on April 8. A percentage of proceeds from the shirts will go to CMSD chess clubs.
In response to new rule changes that may give fans less time to hit the concessions, Progressive Field is embracing technology. Half of the in-seat vendors and stands will now be cashless. Danburg understands some patrons might be a bit annoyed.
"A lot of venues have gone entirely cashless. We're kind of just dipping our toe in the water. Half of our stands and inside vendors will be cashless. So we're not going all in," Danburg said, "but we recognize there's a a portion of our fan base that isn't ready for that yet. So no different than mobile ticketing, you know, just moving our way into it."
Danburg ascribes this largely to the new pitch clock that Major League Baseball has put in place, to hurry the pace of games.
Hungry Guardians fans can try out the new food offerings at the home opener on Friday April 7.