Cleveland Municipal Stadium

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, often referred to as “The Mistake by the Lake,” was more than just a sports venue; it was a significant part of Cleveland’s history and a symbol of its sporting culture. This colossal stadium, known for its vast size and unique character, played host to a multitude of memorable events in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Stadium Facts about Cleveland Municipal Stadium

  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Opened On: July 1, 1931
  • Closed On: December 17, 1995
  • Home Team: Cleveland Indians (American League), 1932-1993
  • Stadium Nicknames: “The Mistake by the Lake”
  • Dimensions: Left Field – 322 feet, Center Field – 400 feet, Right Field – 322 feet
  • Capacity: Originally 78,189; later reduced to around 74,000
  • Attendance Record: 86,288 (October 10, 1948, World Series)
  • Surface: Grass
  • Architect: Osborn Engineering Company
  • Owner: City of Cleveland
  • Competitions: Hosted the 1935, 1954, 1963, and 1981 MLB All-Star Games; multiple World Series games
  • Construction Cost: $2.5 million (1931)

The History

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, opened in 1931, was initially conceived as a part of Cleveland’s bid to host the 1932 Summer Olympics. Although it did not secure the Olympics, the stadium quickly became an iconic venue for both baseball and football in Cleveland. It was the largest stadium in the world at the time of its construction and was a marvel of engineering and design for its era.

The Cleveland Indians moved into the stadium in 1932, marking the beginning of a long and storied history at the venue. Over the years, the stadium witnessed numerous changes in the fortunes of the Indians, from World Series triumphs to long periods of struggle.

Design and Features

The design of Cleveland Municipal Stadium was notable for its sheer size and scale. It was a multi-purpose stadium, designed to host large-scale events including baseball, football, and large gatherings. Its vast seating capacity made it one of the largest sports venues in the world.

Despite its size, the stadium was known for its lack of intimacy and comfort, with many seats offering poor sightlines for baseball games. The stadium’s location on the shore of Lake Erie contributed to its notoriously unpredictable weather, with wind, cold, and lake-effect snow often playing a role in games.


Throughout its history, Cleveland Municipal Stadium underwent several renovations to improve the fan experience and modernize its facilities. These renovations included adding lights for night games, installing a modern scoreboard, and reducing the seating capacity to create a more intimate atmosphere for baseball games.

In the 1990s, as newer, more specialized stadiums became the norm in MLB, Cleveland Municipal Stadium’s shortcomings became more apparent. This led to the decision to build a new ballpark for the Indians, which eventually resulted in the closure of the Municipal Stadium.


Cleveland Municipal Stadium offered a range of basic facilities to cater to its large crowds. Concession stands served traditional ballpark fare, and merchandise stands sold team memorabilia. The stadium’s vast size meant that it had ample parking, but it also meant long walks to seats, especially for those in the upper decks.

The stadium’s facilities were often criticized for being outdated and inadequate, especially in its later years. However, the sheer size and atmosphere of the venue made attending games at the Municipal Stadium a unique experience.

Memorable Moments at Cleveland Municipal Stadium

  • 1948 World Series: The Indians winning their last World Series title.
  • 1954 American League Pennant: The Indians winning a then-record 111 games.
  • Perfect Game by Len Barker: Pitched on May 15, 1981.
  • 1974 Ten Cent Beer Night: An infamous promotion that ended in chaos.
  • The 1995 Farewell Game: An emotional end to the stadium’s tenure as the home of the Indians.

Interesting Baseball History at Cleveland Municipal Stadium

  • Record Attendance Figures: The stadium regularly saw some of the largest crowds in MLB history.
  • Host of Four All-Star Games: Reflecting its status as a premier MLB venue.
  • Longest Game in MLB History: A 22-inning game against the Detroit Tigers in 1962.
  • Integration and the Indians: The stadium witnessed key moments in the integration of baseball.
  • End of an Era: The move to Jacobs Field marked the end of the Municipal Stadium’s storied history in baseball.

Non-Baseball Events

Cleveland Municipal Stadium was a versatile venue that hosted a range of non-baseball events. It was the home of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns until 1995 and hosted several large concerts, including shows by The Beatles and Pink Floyd. The stadium also hosted boxing matches, religious gatherings, and political events, underscoring its significance as a multi-purpose public venue in Cleveland.