The installation of a wind turbine atop the right-field corner of the ballpark is one of several new features at Progressive Field for the 2012 campaign.
Cleveland State University aided the Indians in developing Major League Baseball's first wind turbine, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Indians first approached CSU about the endeavor in 2008, in an attempt to enhance their environmental initiatives. The club was the first in the American League to install solar panels in its venue.
The wind turbine has enough electricity to power two typical homes for an entire year.
"It's an incredible, collaborative effort between us and our neighbors down the street at Cleveland State University," said Indians senior vice president for public affairs Bob DiBiasio. "It is a continuation of how we are trying to be creative and innovative in our organization and at our ballpark."
The addition of the wind turbine could have long-lasting, city-wide ramifications, according to Majid Rashidi, chairman of the engineering technology department at CSU. Rashidi had a hand in overseeing the development of the wind turbine.
"We have all the infrastructure in Cleveland to undertake this initiative of adding renewable energy to our portfolio and to our manufacturing," Rashidi said. "Cleveland is known for heavy industry. Whether we like it or not, renewable energy should participate in the direction of energy for the country. With this, we are hoping that young minds that come to the ballpark see this and get encouraged to think about it and think out of the box and participate for the next generation."
The Indians have instituted two new policies for their fans this season. Attendees will be allowed to bring a water bottle into the ballpark and can exit and re-enter Progressive Field at their leisure through a specified gate.
"That's a major new initiative," DiBiasio said about the permission of water bottles. "We've heard loudly and clearly from our fans regarding that one."
The club has also expanded its social media footprint. The Indians were the first team to create a social media deck, which in 2010 hosted up to 10 active members of the social media community to interact at each game. The deck became the Social Media Suite last year and will return for the 2012 season.
In addition to the suite, the Tribe will connect with fans through four new platforms: TribeVibe, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+, while maintaining its presence on Facebook and Twitter.
"If you live in a cave, that will be the only way you cannot connect with the Indians," DiBiasio said.
The Indians will continue to broadcast certain ticket deals through social media avenues. For the first time, fans can also choose a paperless ticket option, which allows for entry into the ballpark after presenting the credit card used to make the purchase. When using this alternative, fans receive a half-price ticket to a select game.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new season without new concoctions to appeal to fans' taste buds. The Indians have adopted several Food Network items, including a hot dog and sausage bar and buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese, that will be served at specified ballpark locations. Progressive Field will also showcase a daily creation from one of the organization's chefs.
The new "Spuds and Suds" stands will serve veggie dogs and sausage, gluten-free snacks, hot dogs, fries and the "twisted potato." "Onion Lovers" stations will feature every color and style of onion with which to top a hot dog or burger.
"Food matters to you when you come to a baseball game," DiBiasio said. "When you walk in, you say to yourself, 'All right, what am I going to eat today?' We have an incredible array of quality chefs that put together 50-60 items that are available for fans throughout the concourse."
The Indians begin the 2012 season against the Blue Jays on April 5, when Progressive Field will play host to its 19th consecutive Opening Day sellout.
"Whether you're a first-time visitor here at our ballpark, or you're a veteran season-ticket holder," DiBiasio said, "each and every time you come to the ballpark, it's a uniquely personal experience. We have asked for, and have listened to, what our fans what."