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Progressive Field taps into non-profit relationships to help staff the stadium for full capacity

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 2:21 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When Progressive Field opens back up to full capacity, they’ll have to have the staff to reflect the larger crowd. And the Cleveland Indians aren’t immune to staffing shortages others in the hospitality industry are facing.

“We’re going through the same thing as really every other venue in the country. A lot of my counterparts at other stadiums are going through it,” said Thomas Horvath, assistant general manager for Delaware North.

But they have a unique approach that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

To combat staffing shortages, while going from 30 %capacity, to open wide, they’re getting creative with how and who they recruit.

“Our biggest saving grace has been our non-profit organization program, in which we bring non-profits in here to operate various concession stands, and with that, we donate a commission to their cause,” Horvath said.

The organization “Sports and Scholars” is committed to the whole season.

Their volunteers work the Dante’s Inferno stand every game and earn money for tuition and scholarships for sports and extracurricular activities.

Janene Hatch says they’re excited to be back for the 2021 season.

“I lost a few volunteers. I still have not gotten some back because they are hesitant to come back,” said Hatch.

They’re down from 60 to less than 40 volunteers for this season at the ballpark.

“We have one stand, but we could take on more if we had the manpower. So, I’m always out there looking for more people who are interested in our type of fundraising,” she said.

The program has been in place since the stadium opened, and about 80%of the stands are operated this way.

For this first home stand, they’re going to operate as if there’s about 20,000 fans in attendance, so they’re reducing their menus, keeping it to the ballpark classics and items at new grab and grill locations.

Horvath says the response this year has been good, because last year so many non-profits took a hit last year.

“A lot of them are now trying to increase their force so they can hit their goals and efforts for 2021,” he said.

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