27 years ago, the Cleveland Indians played their final game at Municipal Stadium, their home for the previous 61 years.
Construction for Cleveland Stadium, commonly known as Municipal Stadium, broke ground on June 24, 1930. After just over a year, the stadium officially opened on July 1, 1931. For over a decade, the Indians continued to play a portion of their games at League Park, but had permanently established themselves at the larger lakefront location by 1946.
Early on, players complained about the dramatically deeper outfield, a consequence of building the stadium to accommodate both a baseball and a football field, arguing that it was too difficult to hit a home run. Eventually, a closer outfield fence was installed in 1947. Bill Veeck, owner of the Indians between 1947 and 1949, claimed he would move the barrier in or out based on their opponents’ hitting statistics. In response, the MLB was forced to institute a new rule barring such strategies. After just three years of ownership, Veeck sold the team to fund a divorce settlement.
During its time, Municipal Stadium hosted four MLB All-Star Games: 1935, 1954, 1963, and 1981. Today, old Municipal is still tied with Yankee Stadium as the only venues to host four MLB All-Star Games.
Indians games were ill-attended between the ‘60s and ‘90s, rarely exceeding half of the facility’s approximately 78,000-person capacity. The Indians’ last game at Municipal ended in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Bob Hope, born and raised in the area, led the crowd in a Cleveland-themed rendition of “Thanks for the Memory” as a special goodbye to the historic building. The Indians moved to the brand new Jacobs (now Progressive) Field the following year.
By the end of its life, Municipal Stadium fell into disrepair. The Browns played two more seasons there before Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. Municipal Stadium was officially closed on Dec. 17, 1995. Demolition began on Nov. 17th, 1996, finally ending on March 1, 1997.