On Tuesday the Milwaukee Brewers announced that in 2021, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance will replace Miller Brewing to become the primary sponsor for the Brewers’ ballpark.
As you can guess this new naming rights deal has caused outrage among the Milwaukee Brewers fan base. Many are unhappy that, after 20 years, our beloved ballpark will change names.
In a two-part feature, Reviewing the Brew will take both sides, for the new sponsorship and name change and the other side opposed. We will start with the support of the change.
The facts about the new deal
American Family Insurance will begin their sponsorship agreement in 2021 and will go 15 years. However, “AmFam” has been with the Brewers since 2001 as a partner.
"“We are excited to elevate our partnership with American Family Insurance, a heritage Wisconsin company that has been a sponsor of the Brewers since 2001 and one that shares our core values,” said Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio. “This is a significant commitment that reflects American Family’s growing presence in Milwaukee, as well as their support of the Brewers. We look forward to all of the benefits this new partnership will bring to both of our organizations and to fans of the team.”"
The partnership will go beyond the name on the stadium however, with AmFam partnering more in the Milwaukee community to upgrade youth and high school baseball fields, join in community projects and create new and unique fan experiences.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it runs for the remainder of the Brewers’ original lease at the stadium and includes a series of team options that stretch beyond the 2030 season.
Facts about AmFam and Wisconsin sports
American Family Insurance has deep Wisconsin roots. Founded in 1937 and headquartered in Madison, AmFam is a major employer in Dane County, with about 3,500 of its approximately 11,300 nationwide employees based in Madison. They also have a presence at University of Wisconsin events and facilities, as well as a gate at Lambeau Field.
Although they won’t be the primary sponsor, MillerCoors, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, will still hold ties to the Milwaukee Brewers and the relationship between the city and the Brewing company just up the hill. They will still be the primary beer sponsor for the park.
"“While the name on the stadium will change after the 2020 season, we fully expect Brewers fans inside and outside the stadium will continue to celebrate every home run and every strikeout with one of our beloved brands,” the company said."
Why is this a good thing
Baseball is a business. Plain and simple. As teams look for more money to make impacts to their roster, stadium, facilities, many new sponsors are finding life in professional sports. Just this off-season, the Giants’ AT&T Park was renamed to Oracle Park, the Mariners’ Safeco Field is now called T-Mobile Park. This is what happens, stadium naming rights often change now. It’s sad yes, but the way business is done.
Until we know the details of the financial impacts, we can only speculate that it means more operating revenue for the Brewers, as the offer was reportedly ‘incredibly rich’. This means more money available for paying their players such as bringing in free agents or re-signing players like Christian Yelich to extensions. Everyone has wanted the team to spend more money, this is how they do it.
It also could mean upgrades to the facilities. The stadium is rapidly approaching 20 years old.
For example, this past season the Mariners asked for more than $150 million dollars to upgrade their stadium. This is because they lease the facility from the city of Seattle. After a lot of back and forth the city agreed to pay $108 million to the team for upgrades. The team then went months without a main sponsor for the stadium, as Safeco Insurance left after 20 years. T-Mobile jumped up and took the role on as a 25-year partner.
The team needs to find ways to stay competitive and diversify sponsorship opportunities is one way to help.
What about the history?
You can call Miller Park what you want, this is not going to stop fans from saying, “Hey wanna go down to Miller Park for a game?” This deal will never replace the memories and the moments, but also will usher in a chance to make new memories and new moments with an exciting Milwaukee Brewers team.
As fans, we always have to look for the positives, and the team inside AmFam Field (my guess) will be the same team we all know and love, and isn’t that what is most important?