At Milwaukee’s Miller Park, it’s a different ballgame

Fans who visit Miller Park will find plenty of food options and many other distractions, both good and bad, to keep them occupied.

Kevin Pang / Chicago Tribune / MCT

Fans who visit Miller Park will find plenty of food options and many other distractions, both good and bad, to keep them occupied.

Tiffany Pearson, Staff Writer

On April 9, with an outdoor temperature of 31 degrees, 19 seasoned Brewers fans and I set out to Milwaukee to catch the game between the Brewers and the Astros.

Miller Park is known for tailgating, and we began our’s next to a friendly group of 40-somethings, who shared their hot dog buns in exchange for our vodka lemonades.

Tailgating includes games such as bean toss, grilling food, music and drinks. Just hours before the game, realizing all 20 tickets were left back in Madison, we schlepped the short distance from the “Money 1” lot to the will-call booth to reprint 20 tickets.

A gray haired lady working the counter states “that will be $5 per ticket,” quickly recanting with a wink, “but I’ll only charge $5 on your card this time sweetie” promptly reprinting our tickets.

Taking in the $392 million stadium will take your breath away.

Miller Park Stadium opened in 2001 and is known for its retractable roof, built in a unique fan-shaped style with roof panels opening and closing simultaneously in a sweeping manner from first and third base sides toward center field. Large green and metal support beams hold the stadium together, with an industrial look that feels like an homage to the city of Milwaukee itself.

Game time arrives and the parking lot has cleared out.

As we head up the escalators towards our green seats within Miller Park, the dome is closed and the temperature is now a comfortable 70 degrees. The camaraderie of baseball sets in – bright flood lights, players running up to bat, kids holding their baseball gloves up filled with anticipation of hoping to catch a foul ball, hope for a hometown win and the smell of roasted pecans fills the outer ring of the stadium.

These nostalgic feelings of baseball were lost within a few minutes as the first inning began and the advertisements started to fill up my senses. It was hard to take my eyes off of the enormous mounted screen filled with player statistics and ads.

Within minutes, the screen zoomed into a Mountain Dew bottle shaped rock climbing wall encouraging the stadium to cheer on the radio contestant winners as they climbed up. Ads from Caterpillar, Kohl’s, US Cellular and Associated Bank, to name a few, line the entire outfield. Ads also play in a digital banner spanning across the field from the big screen. A Toyota jeep drove around the perimeter of the field advertising a special car deal.

The large mounted screen continues to play games with Brewers fans, including Grand Slam Grocery Game and The Great Hair Cam. Great Hair Cam ignites the “Oohh’s, Awww’s” that erupt from the crowd having just witnessed a baby on a big screen with a Kenny Rogers hair do.

Incessant radio commercials play over the speakers, so boisterous that trying to focus on the game takes considerable concentration. By now, it’s the fourth inning and Brewers are down.

I decide to go walk around the outer ring and head into the exceptionally clean and available restrooms. I observe hundreds of women shopping for Brewer’s gear in a number of clothing stores, kids running around, kiosks selling merchandise, beer and drinks, TGI Fridays adorns a red velvet rope and lines stretched into the walkway to watch the game on the television. Heading back to the seats, I buy one coffee and one Miller Genuine Draft costing me $13.

According to the Brewers official website, there are 52 different places to eat including AJ Bombers and Fridays, 13 stores to buy merchandise and 27 brew carts.

Home attendance at Miller Park averaged 31,000 people per game in 2015, so maybe this is not as excessive as I originally had thought, but in my opinion, Miller Park is best described as a mall.

If you can look past the mall feeling of Miller Park and take it for what it is, you may have a fun time or an experience. Ticket prices range from $20 to $200.