One of my favorite things about baseball is the fact that each ballpark has its very own personality. As a kid, I would become entranced by the Green Monster or the ivy in Wrigley and, especially, the fountains in Kansas City. That’s not even a joke. When RBI Baseball 2 came out for Nintendo, I was so hyped at the chance to hit a home run into the water because they had included the fountains.
The quirks and make-up of a ballpark combined with each team’s in-game entertainment and rituals provides a gameday fan experience that is unique to the game of baseball. A football field is a football field like a basketball court is a basketball court. The only differences are the paint on the floor.
With baseball, a lot of times, these park factors also impact the game itself which is also unlike any of the other sport. Can you take advantage of the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium? How will the left fielder play the carom off the Monster in Fenway? How fucking cool are those goddamn fountains in Kansas City?
Now that I’m an adult and don’t have to borrow money from my Mom (who reads this blog everyday because it’s the first hobby I’ve ever had where I’m not going home hurt at the end of the day) to go to games, I’ve made it kind of my mission to see as many of the different stadiums as possible. Usually, I’ll try traveling strictly to see the Mets because, obviously, it makes the game more enjoyable for me, but if I have a day and a chance, I’ll get to a stadium just to watch baseball and enjoy the fine amenities and concessions at the wonderful homes of our favorite game.
Which brings me to last Monday. I have a friend who is a sports journalist and recently moved for a job in Madison, WI and was begging me to come visit. Madison’s only about 90 minutes from Milwaukee, so I said fine as long as we could go to the Brewers game that night against the Dodgers.
I’d actually been to Miller Park once before during last season when the Mets played there and had a good time so I was looking forward to going back. I normally get my tickets on StubHub and for a team that has started out as poorly as the Brewers have, I knew that there were good deals to be found. Sure enough, I was able to find field level seats, four rows off the rail behind the tarp on the left field side for $23. Sweet. We were going to be right by where the Sausage Race begins.
The Sausage Race is awesome. I love it. It fits the town, the vibe and is just plain fun. My favorite sausage is the Chorizo. Chorizo has now come in last place in the race both times I’ve visited Miller Park. There are five sausages in the race and they’re incredibly popular with kids and adults alike. There’s a vast array of sausage merchandise available for purchase including t-shirts, plush dolls and more! I will admit to buying a Chorizo plush doll last time.
Milwaukee’s not a huge town, but it’s big enough to have a fun downtown area with plenty of drinking establishments and very reasonable prices. If you’re ever in the area, I do recommend two things: the tour of the Miller Brewery and the statue of the The Fonz.
The Miller Brewery is about 15-20 minutes away from Miller Park and is very easy to get to if you’re driving. It’s also free. You just show up, get a ticket to the next tour and you’re in. It takes about an hour and, at the end, you’re given some free samples to test. Afterwards, you’re welcome to stay and run up a tab in their bar. Even something as simple as a Miller High Life tastes so much better just because the freshness factor. Out of the factory and into your hand. The way it was meant to be, dammit.
The Fonz, or Arthur Fonzarelli (but only Mrs. C gets to call him Arthur) is, obviously, the legendary TV character from the classic “Happy Days” which was based in Milwaukee. I really hope you people aren’t hearing that for the first time. I’m not that old that I should need to explain who the Fonz is. Anyway, there’s a statue of Fonzie downtown that I believe was placed as a way of promoting the show being added to Nick At Nite. Which is why in NY we have the Ralph Kramden statue outside the Port Authority. Either way, I love Fonzie and took a picture with it and am really satisfied with myself for doing so.
Once you get to the game, you can park in the general lot for $12 which is fair, I think. It’s a helluva lot better than $22 at Citi Field. There’s a brisk walk that comes along with parking in the general lot, but it’s not that bad. And I’m not exactly a big fan of walking. So if I say it’s not bad, it’s not bad. I will say that getting out of the lot is fucking horrendous. The first time I was there, I legitimately took a 90 nap in the parking lot before even pulling out of my spot. It was that horrible. This time I simply left the game and got out early.
The new fad in baseball stadium concessions is the one I love the best: the “gross amalgamation of many foods condensed into a gelatinous mess sandwich-type” that most people look upon with pure disgust. Not me. I want it in my belly. Miller Park is no stranger to that. “The Beast” i s a wedge of hot dog ia wedge of hot dog, stuffed into a footlong bratwurst, all wrapped in bacon and topped with kraut and cooked onions. It’s swaddled in an excellent pretzel bun and drizzled with grainy mustard and Stadium Sauce. It is fucking awesome.
There’s plenty of options for normal people who don’t want to have a heart-attack by the sixth inning too. Plenty of good sausage and smoked meat items as well as a very tasty grilled brisket in addition to the regular ballpark offerings. And, of course, this being Milwaukee, there is a decent amount of beer options to choose from. Not as many as Big Apple Brews at Citi Field (just to give some context), but enough to offer a good variety.
Overall, I like Miller Park. I’ve had a good time there both times that I’ve been and recommend getting out there if you can or are in the area. I’d probably give the whole ballpark experience a solid 7 out of 10. Good for families and fun with plenty of stuff to do for the kids, pretty good in affordability of tickets and concessions and parking. The logistics of parking is a nightmare, but I suppose that’s something you grow to expect at sporting events. So, why does that 7 seem so low, you may ask. Simply because I’ve been to other parks that are even better. I feel like Milwaukee and the Brewers did the best with what they had, but there are other places that have more to offer from things like views (San Francisco, Denver), more extravagant concessions (Citi Field, Seattle) or comparable in-game entertainment (Phillies, White Sox). A 7 isn’t bad. For a night at the ball game, it’s good. And I do recommend it which I would absolutely not do for every stadium I’ve been to.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned throughout the season as I do more Baseball Across American trips!