The Miller Park Experience
After three straight days of baseball, my wife and I needed a break. The trip to Chicago was a blast. We got to see two really great ballparks and experienced some other sites in the city as well. Packing all of that into three days required a nice quiet drive up to beautiful Wisconsin, a walk around the city of Milwaukee, and a trip to the amazingly accommodating Lakefront Brewery. After all of this relaxation, it was time for us to cross another ballpark off the list as we headed down to Miller Park for a wednesday afternoon game. Based on what I saw as we passed by Miller Park on the highway the night before, I had a pretty good feeling about it. The ballpark looks very modern and impressive from a distance. The retractable roof and window pane architecture reminded me of what it might feel like to see a game at Chase Field in Arizona. The sleek appearance of Miller Park from a distance was also reflected in the outside areas of the ballpark. One of the biggest surprises of my time in the state of Wisconsin was seeing how well manicured the architecture and landscaping is in most of the state. I’ve been to quite a few states in this country, but I have never seen one that was preserved as well as Wisconsin. The beauty of the state is definitely reflected as you walk around the outside of the ballpark. Beautiful landscaping, plenty of statues to look at that reflect the history of Milwaukee baseball and the construction of Miller Park itself.
As far as the Miller Park experience itself, I feel like the quality of the time you can have here depends on where your seats are. For this game, we chose to sit a few sections up along the third baseline. The positives of this location is that you get a nice view of the retractable roof and you get a full view of the highway as you look outside of the outfield windows. However, out of all of the stadiums i’ve been to in the modern era, i’ve never felt more disconnected from the game than I did sitting in that section. Not all ballparks/stadiums are like this. Usually I can sit pretty far away or up high in the nosebleeds and still feel connected to the game. For some reason, I felt like an outsider from these seats.
After a few innings of watching the game from the 500 section, we ventured down a few levels in order to catch a mini documentary in a room called “The Bud Selig Experience”. This might have been the coolest part of the day as you sit in the nice air conditioned theater for about 15-20 minutes and watch a documentary narrated by the great Brewers announcer Bob Uekcer. The film is basically a tribute to Bud Selig and is dedication to keeping a team in Milwaukee. Although I was familiar with the story of how the Braves left town, I was unaware how the Brewers got to Milwaukee in the first place. It was also interesting to see some history about a team I don’t know a whole lot about. The best part of the Bud Selig experience was the hologram of Bud Selig. Towards the end of the documentary one of the screens lift up and you see a hologram of Bud Selig talking to you from his “office”. It was very strange how lifelike this hologram was. After this part of the presentation is over, you are escorted over to the “office” where you can take a firsthand look at it as well as some other artifacts and memorabilia from the construction of Miller Park.
After the Bud Selig experience, my wife and I did the best we could to take it all in as this was our only visit to Miller Park on the trip. We walked around, explored more of the Hall of Fame areas that are on display throughout the park. There is even a section dedicated to the Milwaukee Braves which was very cool to look at. We attempted to find a great place to watch the game as well. Much like Nats Park, Miller Park has a section blocked off in the outfield for restaurant eating during the game. The view was very nice, the food was good, but unfortunately the waitress who was serving us was having a rough day. She might have been overwhelmed by how busy it was. We’re not completely sure. She actually wound up quitting in the middle of our time there. Thankfully the TGI Friday’s staff comped us for our appetizer and drink which was very cool of them. From what we saw, it looks like we had bad timing in our arrival to this section. I don’t believe this is reflective of the service they provide. Overall, much like Wrigley Field, the Miller Park staff were pretty nice and helpful throughout our time. After all of this, we were still in pursuit of finding a good spot to watch the game. It took us nine innings, but I believe the concourse section between the first and second section of seating behind home plate was probably the closest I felt to the game all day. My advice for Miller Park is to buy your tickets for the 100 or 200 sections. This place is pretty big and you feel disconnected from the game pretty quickly as you go up.
Although I had a good time at Miller Park, I can’t help but to feel like something was missing. It’s a beautiful ballpark, the staff was friendly, the Bud Selig Experience was a unique feature, the history of the team and Milwaukee baseball is well documented, and it has many cool, unique quirks throughout. So what exactly is missing? What more could I ask for? Other than a signature hot dog or souvenir cup, i’m not sure. Perhaps this park is a little too modern looking? Maybe they should do more to make you feel closer to the game? I was actually hoping i’d be able to pinpoint what that is more clearly a week later, but i’m still at a lost. Miller Park gets an A for effort as it clearly looks like they put in a lot of it in order to make the gamday experience a great one. It might be unfortunate for them that i’ve been to so many different ballparks that I can feel the difference between a great one like PNC Park in Pittsburgh and one that is a notch below. Thankfully for them, if time ever allowed for it, I would probably give this place another try. I would just make sure I sat in a lower section next time!