Anyone who has ever taken young kids to the ballpark knows that, after a few innings, fidgeting sets in, and a walk through the concourse or a trip to the souvenir stand doesn't always do the trick. In its continual effort to make taking in a baseball game more than just balls and strikes, the Cleveland Indians recently opened a Kids Clubhouse play area. Housed on the mezzanine level along the first-base line, the kid-friendly area is split into two sections: an air-conditioned Rookie Suite for children 6 and under and an open-air Slugger's Sandlot for kids 7 and older.
Team president Mark Shapiro says it's one-of-a-kind among major league ballparks. "Parents can be up here, their kids can be playing and they can still watch the game," Shapiro says.
The Rookie Suite has Step2 toys, a climbing wall and arts and crafts. Slugger's Sandlot features video games, a batting cage and a booth where kids can get their own trading card made. Slider and the Hot Dog Race mascots (Ketchup, Mustard and Onion) will be regular visitors. Both areas will have discounted concessions geared toward kids.
Shapiro says a lot of what went into the clubhouse came from personal experience. "I've been through my kids growing up at the ballpark," he says, "knowing what they want to do and how they want to see it. I know I don't want to miss the game."