July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

No snow expected for Tribe’s home opener

Staff Writer

CLEVELAND — History will not repeat itself today at Progressive Field when the Indians open their 108th Major League Baseball season.

There is no snow in the weather forecast, meaning there is no chance of the fluffy white stuff canceling the 3:05 p.m. game against the Chicago White Sox.

A rainout, however, is not out of the question as showers are expected throughout the afternoon.

“I can’t guarantee the weather will be perfect, like we all hoped it would be,” Tribe vice president Bob DiBiasio said, breaking into a smile. “But I can guarantee that things will work out better than they did last year.”

That’s a promise DiBiasio will have no problem keeping — unless a tornado sweeps through downtown — because the weather was absolutely awful for Cleveland’s 2007 home opener.

A day-long snowstorm turned the then-Jacobs Field into a winter wonderland last April 6, leading to the Indians’ home debut against Seattle being snowed out just one out shy of being an official game.

The rest of Cleveland’s first home series was also wiped out when the snow kept falling, as was its next home set against the Angels when the field became waterlogged as the snow melted.

The latter series was moved to Milwaukee’s Miller Park, where the Indians’ official “home opener” was played on April 10 in front of just 19,031 Wisconsin fans. The Tribe posted a 7-6 win over Los Angeles in the game behind ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who also will start today’s contest.

Despite that dismal experience, team president Paul Dolan was undeterred and petitioned MLB to allow the Indians to open their 2008 season at home.

The request was granted, marking the first time in Tribe history that Cleveland will host a regular-season game in the month of March.

“We like to say the home opener is the first real sign of spring in Cleveland, but it does come a little earlier than we’re used to this year,” DiBiasio said. “Even if we do see a little bit of rain, we think all the positives of starting the season at home outweigh the negatives.”

Admittedly, one of the Indians’ main reasons for opening at home was to garner publicity for its rechristened stadium. Mayfield Village-based Progressive Insurance is paying $3.6 million annually through the 2023 season to put its name (and 24,000 company logos) on the facility.

With 2008 also being the Tribe’s 15th year playing on the corner of Carnegie Avenue and Ontario Street, the time was right for a season-opening celebration on the North Coast.

“There have been countless memorable moments at this ballpark since it opened in 1994, and there promise to be many, many more in the years ahead,” DiBiasio said. “We’re excited to start creating new memories under a new name, while also celebrating the franchise’s rich history.”

The longtime club executive then began laughing and said: “We’re also very happy that our home opener won’t be in Milwaukee this year.”

Dulik may be reached at 330-721-4059 or brisports@hotmail.com.