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Indians games return to residents

Andy Ouriel • Apr 12, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Residents at Erie County’s public nursing home can smile wider than Chief Wahoo, now that they can tune into Cleveland Indians games.

Increased programming costs brought upon by providers, such as Fox, forced representatives at Buckeye CableSystem — The Meadows at Osborn Park’s cable TV provider — to raise rates on several channels.

Among the channel prices increasing: SportsTime Ohio, the Indians’ flagship station.

Citing the nursing home’s weak financial standing, Erie County officials opted against paying an additional $540 a month just to air SportsTime Ohio. Adding this one channel alone would have increased the nursing home’s $1,000-a-month cable bill by 54 percent.

SportsTime Ohio airs almost all of the Indians’ 162 games this season. Only some weekend games and a handful of other matchups are provided on overthe-air TV. Decades ago, most Indians games aired on free TV.    

About two weeks ago, coinciding with the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season, the Register highlighted the Tribe blackout issue on the nursing home’s TVs.

In interviews, several residents expressed frustration at not being able to watch the games.

Since the article published, many community members have donated money, and even Buckeye CableSystem negotiated a better rate to offset extra costs for airing Indians games this year.

Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox marked the first time this year Meadows residents could view Indians games.

“A lot of them look forward to the games,” said Dan Fresch, owner of Sandusky-based Fresch Electric, who also donated money. “I just figured it’s a good way to help the community a little bit and help the people out there”

Buckeye CableSystem representatives also did their part. They recently determined they could reduce the nursing home’s total cable bill.

“It was never our intention to keep the games from them,” Buckeye CableSystem vice president Pat Deville said. “It’s just a matter of trying to help them out and get residents the Indians games”

The cable savings and private donations added up to about $7,000, enough to air one full year’s worth of SportsTime Ohio programming, which includes Indians games.

Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo coordinated the goodwill effort.

But he’s not done. He’s trying to schedule Slider, the Indians’ mascot, to appear at The Meadows and visit with residents sometime soon.

“Our residents are going to be really excited to get an in-person visit from Slider, and we’re going to make it a whole baseball-themed day with hot dogs, hamburgers and everybody dressed up,” Shenigo said.

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