Ballpark Reviews, Baseball, Travel

Ballpark Review: American Family Field (Milwaukee Brewers)

We fortunately got to experience American Family Field (formerly Miller Park) twice during our trip with the roof both open and closed. We definitely preferred the roof open to enjoy the beautiful skies and best lighting. Despite limited crowds due to the pandemic, Brewers fans were very boisterous and activities like the sausage race still made for a fun experience. The concessions were unique featuring local favorites like cheese curds, Johnsonville sausages (even on nachos), Miller Lite, and craft brews. Most extra amenities were closed (kids areas and Selig Experience) or required special tickets, but we expect are pretty neat. The stadium was a pretty far from downtown Milwaukee, but since we had time we leisurely walked along the Hank Aaron State Trail directly to the stadium. It was definitely a pleasant experience, and we loved taking in all that the Brewers Crew had to offer!

Design

The stadium has a fan-shaped, retractable roof with light green arches that rise high in the skyline (viewable from afar when closed or open). There are glass windows above the upper decks to allow in more light and views. You can see the clock tower through the left home plate side. There are HVAC vents above every upper level section, that made the stadium quite comfortable when the roof was closed. We fortunately got to see the stadium with the roof open and closed. It was way cooler (literally and figuratively) with it open. The LED field lights frame the bottom of the arched roof. There are four levels, making the stadium very high. The seats are green with navy blue accents for the outfield walls (we were a bit surprised the seats weren’t blue to match the team colors). The interior design looks very retro-industrial with a lot of metal beams and brick standardized concession stands. Unfortunately there is minimal to no skyline view from the stadium when the dome is open or closed. You can see the Milwaukee skyline way in the distance from outfield.

There’s a nice bridge that crosses from the parking lots and Hank Aaron Trail with beautiful views of the stadium roof arches. The exterior features red brick, majestic arches with windows. This brick fit well with the Milwaukee architecture. A clock tower looms near the home plate entrance. Each main entrance features a different Milwaukee great to welcome fans including Robin Yount, Hank Aaron, Bud Selig (former team owner and MLB commisioner), and Bob Uecker (longtime radio broadcaster). Another sculpture, Teamwork, honors three workers killed during the construction of the stadium. Also on the outside of the stadium, there is a Walk of Fame (featuring stars for famous players) and a Brewers and Braves Wall of Honor (featuring players, coaches, and executives from the Milwaukee Brewers and Braves teams).

The concourse is not very open (especially along outfield) and most of the TVs setup don’t have video (just the score) so you can’t watch the game as you walk around. There are also very few seats in outfield so limited spots for trying to get balls during batting practice, though I was still able to get one from both Genesis Cabrera and Giovanny Gallegos from the left field foul side. There are great views into the visiting bullpen from the outfield and the visiting dugout from the right field upper levels.

A large scoreboard is situated right above center field and has great quality. Unfortunately the info wasn’t very well displayed (i.e. small font sizes and not very relevant info). The person updating the scoreboard was slower than we are used to. The scoreboard juts out over center field, making for some unclear ground rules on what would be considered a home run. The view of the scoreboard isn’t great from the bleachers but good from the upper (terrace) level.

Location

The stadium is in a very industrial area with no fun activities/restaurants within walking distance. There are many large parking lots with Milwaukee tailgaters. We didn’t drive, but I expect parking is pretty easy if you park in the stadium lots. The surrounding area seemed pretty safe. We walked to the stadium via the Hank Aaron State Trail from the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. The trail was very nicely paved and runs along the railroad and river. It’s unfortunately not very shaded. You can also bike along this trail, and there are bike racks at the stadium. We were able to use Lyft via the Gantner Lot for our ride back to the hotel.

Concessions

Wisconsin is known for its cheese, especially the famous fried cheese curds. Thus, this was the first food we tried. They were pretty mushy and greasy, with an ok flavor. Scott really enjoyed them, but I prefer mine crispy. The cheese curds we had earlier in the day at Milwaukee Brat House were far superior. They were served in a bag leading to moisture condensation, which is the likely reason for them not being crunchy. They were also available mixed with fries (plain) or even mixed with fries and topped with nacho cheese and bacon (“Wisconsin Ultimate Cheese Fry” for $12), but we stuck with the original.

Johnsonville sausages and brats are super popular and supposed to be served with warm sauerkraut and Secret Stadium Sauce (a cross between barbecue sauce and ketchup). They unfortunately didn’t have their Secret Stadium Sauce available so we opted for the Bratchos (nachos loaded with chopped up brats). They really very tasty, with lots of jalapeños, sour cream, and nacho cheese. The ground brats were way better than expected, especially since there was no casing.

Scott also got a slice of the Street-za “Lou” pizza, which is an STL-inspired pizza with burnt ends, BBQ sauce, green onions, pickled red onion, and Wisconsin cheddar. It was unique but light on toppings and heavy on cornmeal on the undercarriage. Overall flavor was unfortunately mediocre.

For dessert, we opted for pecans from Heavenly Roasted Nuts, which smelled divine in the concourse. They were crunchy and delicious. The custard offerings were very basic with only vanilla, chocolate, and twist, so we opted to not try it.

Other tasty looking food options we didn’t get to try included loaded fries, pretzels, popcorn, and the Restaurant *To Be Named Later (a pun on the “Player to be Named Later” as part of MLB trades). They also offered mobile ordering.

They have $6 happy hour beer at he Miller Lite Beerpen, which included Miller Lite or Coors Lite. They have Local Brews on tap, which we tried the Hinterland Cherry Wheat ($15). It was so-so but not worth the price tag. They also had options for basic cocktails (margaritas, Bloody Mary) and Jim Beam mixed drinks.

We got to sit in section 411 (terrace box) and 202 (RF bleachers), and both sections were $13 each. Thus, both were less than the $15 beer we bought! We ended up going to two games on our trip because they were such a steal!

Amenities

They had a number of all-inclusive sections and suites. The Johnsonville Party Deck, Leinie Lounge, and PNC Club Level suites were the three ticketed areas we saw. We walked through the Club Level hall, which requires fans to scan tickets to access their suite. There are three Party Suites and an Executive Suite on this PNC Club Level.

All the kids’ areas were closed due to the pandemic. The US Cellular Power Playground features a Jr. Bernie’s slide, pitching areas, and sausage statues. There’s also a small Kids Zone on the upper levels.

There seemed to be a sufficient number of restrooms. I liked that the bathrooms were unidirectional, which helped with maintaining social distance during the pandemic.

There were no cup holders on upper level seats or bleachers, which was a pain. There was plenty of leg space (especially since you could prop legs up since we were socially distanced in pods).

They had multiple, large team stores including a small Authentics shop, which had game used memorabilia from the previous night’s Cardinals game.

The “Selig Experience” was unfortunately closed, but is typically free and features former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s prestigious accomplishments.

Culture

We loved the sounds played for key activities. After a strikeout, they played the Super Mario Bros. death song, and after the 3rd out, they played the Super Mario Bros. end of the level song. After a walk, they flash MilWALKee on scoreboard. They also had a high five cam, a challenging cap dance featuring five caps instead of three, and Family Feud game on the big screen.

The Johnsonville sausage race after the top of the 6th was pretty short and silly. Italian sausage won in our first race. “Roll out the Barrel” is sung during 7th inning stretch in addition to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This is a salute to Milwaukee’s beer-making history. The main drink concession stand also has the words to the song with “Zing” and “Boom” lit up. There was a lot of integration of Wisconsin history in the game (sausages and barrel song), but not much franchise player history. I was hoping for more Hank Aaron inspired moments in the game.

Fans were pretty animated (considering the stands were pretty empty due to COVID limitations). There were lots of boos for Molina and when the pitcher was taking his time. There were occasional “Let’s Go Brewers” chants. Fans gave nice ovations throughout the game, such as when the starting pitcher Woodruff exited or when the second game’s pitcher Corbin Burnes broke an MLB record for most strikeouts without a walk to start a season. There was lots of bad mouthing and yelling at the umps during the Carlson at-bat when Counsell got tossed. The usher had to even shut up a fan because of profanity. The workers were extremely friendly, providing recommendations for best photo ops and even called us “love birds.”

Bernie Brewer, the team mascot, has his own club house called “Bernie’s Chalet” above left field where he hung out the entire game. After a home run, Bernie slides down the big white slide as fireworks shoot from the top of the center field scoreboard. The famous words from radio broadcaster Bob Uecker light up – “Get Up, Get Up, Get Outta Here, Gone!” We were sad that the giant mug of beer at the end of the slide was discontinued.

Summary & Scoring

Date Visited: May 12, 2021; May 13, 2021
Game Played:
Cards 1, Brewers 4 – O’Neill HR only Cards run, Garcia HR for Brewers. Gant started with 5 innings and Cabrera (who threw Sarah ball) threw 2 shutout innings. Boxscore;
Cards 2, Brewers 0 – Flaherty pitched 6 shutout innings. Gallegos, Cabrera, and Reyes all pitched a shutout inning. Arenado only player with an RBI. Second run scored on error. Boxscore
Design: 3.6 out of 5 stars – Fan-shaped, retractable roof with arches that rise high in the skyline (viewable from afar when closed or open). Red brick exterior matches well with Milwaukee architecture. Wonderful statues and walls of honor strategically placed near main entrances.
Location: 3.3 out of 5 stars – Very industrial surrounding area and large parking lots for tailgating. Not easily walkable from downtown Milwaukee, but can be reached via unique Hank Aaron State Trail by walking or biking.
Concessions: 4 out of 5 stars – Unique local options like cheese curds, Johnsonville sausages (even on nachos), Miller Lite, and craft brews. Took advantage of “Miller Time” $6 happy hour.
Amenities: 4 out of 5 stars – Large Playground for kids, Selig Experience, and many all-inclusive suites (didn’t get to experience any due many being closed or requiring special tickets).
Culture: 4.3 out of 5 stars – Fun Mario-themed sounds, very boisterous fans, and Wisconsin themed activities like the sausage race made for an entertaining experience.
Overall: 3.8 out of 5 stars The culture – including energetic fans, strong rivalry, and integration of Wisconsin history in the game – was our favorite. We loved taking in the unique local food, especially the loaded Bratchos and cheese curds. We were very excited to experience the stadium with the roof open, and much preferred this ambiance. We loved having the opportunity to take in all that the Brew Crew had to offer!

Other Pictures

Wainwright waved to us during batting practice in the first game and also played a prank on us (pretending to catch a ball when there wasn’t a ball in the air). Sarah got a ball from both Genesis Cabrera and Giovanny Gallegos in the two different batting practices we watched. We got to watch Flaherty warm up both days and enjoyed his arm stretches (raise the roof).

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