Miller Park, the shrine (dare I say the mecca?) of Brewers fans came under harsh criticism from ESPN.com’s Jim Caple during the
website’s “Battle of the Ballparks” tournament. And, as we saw after Ryan Braun’s suspension was lifted and during All Star Game voting and the “Final Vote” in previous years, if you challenge Brewers fans prepare for a social media rally and a victory for baseball’s smallest market.
The home of the Brewers since 2001, Miller Park beat out (or in the words of Caple, upset) Angel Stadium, Dodger Stadium, PNC Park, and, in the final round, AT&T Park to unofficially be crowned as the Best Ballpark in the MLB.
But, come on. It didn’t take some online fan voting contest to tell Brewers fans what we already knew.
If you were to walk around the entire seating bowl and all 43,000 fans in the Saturday night sellout crowd what they love most about Miller Park, you would probably get 42,999 different answers. Stadiums such as Wrigley Field and Nationals Park, though top-notch in their own right, wouldn’t return the amount of different answers that Miller Park would bring. Though famous ballpark landmarks, the ivy on the walls and the view of the Capitol don’t simply make a stadium.
A friend of mine said to me earlier this year that “Miller Park was designed by a bunch of frat boys. It’s named after a beer company, has sausages run around the field, you can tailgate for hours, and there’s a huge slide in left field.”
Thinking about it, Miller Park was catered for Milwaukee and Milwaukee has responded with indefatigable support. How could Wisconsin sports go on without the pre-game tailgating scene? As if we don’t love our bratwursts and our Italians and our hot dogs enough, we have them race around the warning track to our pleasure. There aren’t the amount of “luxury seats” as you’ll find in, say, Yankee Stadium, but there isn’t a single bad seat in Miller Park. We don’t need to be spoiled to enjoy a game; just ask the group of four chilling in Terrace Reserved with their favorite drinks and sausage in hand, watching on with a gorgeous view of the field.
The neo-classic architecture of Miller Park catches the eye of passengers driving down I-794 on their way to the lakefront or the Southside. The brick exterior topped off with a majestic retractable roof would look spectacular even if the roof didn’t close. Without the roof, the stadium simply wouldn’t be the same. The Milwaukee Business Journal reported that “Miller Park stadium district director Mike Duckett crunched the numbers and said the roof was significant in making Brewers home attendance increase by about 1 million fans annually since the new stadium opened.” Fans coming from out of the Milwaukee area are always assured of watching a full nine innings played and never is there a chance of a rainout in Cream City.
Even with a closed roof there isn’t the feel of a stuffy indoor stadium. The panels in the outfield allow for a breeze to settle in the stadium and the Milwaukee skyline is visible through the windows above the Terrace Reserved seats. On a chilly 40-degree day in Milwaukee for Opening Day 2012, a closed roof allowed for tee shirts and warm weather inside.
The motivation behind this article came from my trip to Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, for a game this weekend. Target Field received the fifth seed in the Battle of the Ballparks and was deemed an “absolute gem” by Caple, but, for the most part, the experience didn’t compare to Miller Park. Even though Target Field is noted for being an open-air park, the whole feel of the stadium felt crowded; the concourses weren’t as wide as Miller Park’s (one of the most underrated parts of our stadium) and there wasn’t as much leg space. The Twins held some sort of race with Target mascots (or so I believe) in between one of the innings and it was a mere attempt to replicate the Klement’s Sausage Race at Miller Park. The scoreboard wasn’t nearly as large or informative and don’t get me started on how the bratwurst wasn’t worth half of the $4.50 they charged for it.
Not to say there wasn’t a lot to like about Target Field (the architecture, the huge Twins logo in center field, the view of the field, the gardens, etc), but it didn’t compare to Miller Park. Heck, you can’t tailgate before a Twins game because, well, you can’t tailgate in a parking structure.
Transportation isn’t an issue with Miller Park, meaning that getting to the stadium could be achieved by a 15-year-old in driver’s school. Seriously. It’s right off the highway, signs direct you right to the parking lots, and it’s bicycle-friendly.
The Miller Park experience is something to note, as well. Longtime PA announcer Robb Edwards’ buzzing voice fits the feel of the stadium, especially when he utters the pregame phrase, “Welcome to beautiful Miller Park”. Concessions are dispersed throughout the ballpark and you don’t half to miss an inning walking to go get the best bratwurst in baseball doused with Secret Stadium Sauce. The seventh-inning stretch just isn’t complete at other ballparks without “Roll Out The Barrell”. The stadium is also the first with a retractable roof to be LEED certified and holds the MLB’s fourth-largest scoreboard.
You can take away our winning record. You can take away our All Star first baseman. You can take away our ball-and-glove logo. But you can’t take away Miller Park, the true gem of Major League Baseball stadiums.