'Snow Days' delivers one-of-a-kind experience

'Snow Days' delivers one-of-a-kind experience

CLEVELAND -- Progressive Field is filling with snow, but the Indians have no plans of moving games to another location. This winter storm is man made and one of a kind, and it is going to be open to the public on Friday.

On Tuesday, the Tribe provided a sneak peak of its upcoming "Snow Days" event, which will run through Jan. 2 at the Indians' home ballpark. The baseball field has been transformed into a winter-themed playground, complete with areas designated for ice skating, tubing and other activities.

"This is a first-time event in America," said Bob DiBiasio, Indians vice president of public relations. "Nobody has tried what we've created here."

The idea of a winter retreat for families is not unique, but what is rare is the execution of that idea inside Progressive Field. Rising above left field is the Batterhorn, which has 10 snow tubing lanes that drop to the field below. Circling the field -- and running under the Batterhorn in one section -- is a quarter-mile ice track for skating as well.

The skating track alone -- called the "Frozen Mile" -- is unique to the United States and only the second of its kind in North America. Combining that with the towering Batterhorn has not been done anywhere prior to this winter's "Snow Days" in Cleveland.

"It was one of those due diligence things," DiBiasio said. "We started with a germ of an idea and just would not give it up. We felt that there was something we could do for families to enjoy in the winter time. There had to be."

DiBiasio credited Jim Folk, the Indians' vice president of baseball operations, and Dennis Lehman, the club's executive vice president of business, as the brains behind "Snow Days." They strived to find a way to bring a winter-themed event to the ballpark to continue the Indians' efforts to create a family-friendly environment.

Kurt Schloss, Indians senior director of merchandising, served as a manager for the daunting project. Seeing everything come together was a source of great satisfaction.

"It was incredible -- really incredible," Schloss said. "It's really been a labor of love. A lot of people played a lot of important roles in making this a success."

Beyond the Batterhorn and the Frozen Mile, there is also a smaller skating rink and a "Snow Maze" made with bales of hay. The maze is four feet high, allowing parents to keep an eye on their kids as they run though. There is also a "Snow Zone" in left field, where kids can make a snowman or snowballs.

If it gets a bit cold for comfort, families can retreat to the fire pit located on the Home Run Porch above left field or to the Indians home dugout, which will be fitted with heaters.

Friday has been dubbed "Snopening Day" and the event will be open on the first day from noon until 10 p.m. ET. At 8 p.m., there will be fireworks as part of the opening celebration. The "Snow Days" will be open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Advance purchased in person at the ballpark or online at indians.com will include free parking at the Gateway East Garage located by Progressive Field.

General admission tickets cost $5 and provide access to the Snow Zone, the Winter Haven area with the Snow Maze, and to other activities, excluding tubing and ice skating. Tickets cost $10 for unlimited ice skating included, $20 for a two-hour session on the Batterhorn included and $25 for a combination package.

Family and group rates are also available.

"We've got a whole generation that remembers the glory days of the '90s here," Schloss said. "We're trying to get a whole generation of kids to come down to this facility. It's a family-friendly park. We want them to say, 'I remember going to Progressive Field as a kid.' Hopefully that leads to, 'Let's go down and watch a baseball game.'"

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.