Miller Park

1 Brewers Way Milwaukee

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Miller Park

Miller Park is home to the Milwaukee Brewers, the city's Major League Baseball franchise, and was completed in 2001 as a replacement for Milwaukee County Stadium. The park is located just southwest of the intersection of Interstate 94 and Miller Park Way and is named after the Miller Brewing Company. Miller's contract with the stadium was for $40 million, and runs through 2020. After this American Family Insurance will take on the naming rights beginning with the 2021 season.

Miller Park features North America's only fan-shaped convertible roof, which can open and close in less than 10 minutes. Large panes of glass allow natural grass to grow, augmented with heat lamp structures wheeled out across the field during the off-season.

Construction

Miller Park is one of the largest construction projects in Wisconsin history. It was built with US$290 million of public funds from a 0.1% sales tax that began January 1, 1996, and is scheduled for retirement upon completion, sometime around 2020. The tax was controversial, in part because of the notion of using public funds for a privately owned sports team. The state senator who cast the deciding vote in the funding bill, George Petak of Racine, lost a recall election based on his vote for the stadium.

Groundbreaking took place on November 9, 1996, in a parking lot behind County Stadium. Originally scheduled to open in 2000, Miller Park's construction was delayed after three construction workers were killed in an accident. A Lampson Transi-lift crane 3 (nicknamed "Big Blue"), brought in to build the roof, collapsed while lifting a 450-ton roof section, during windy conditions, on July 14, 1999, killing three workers. A camera crew was filming construction of the stadium on that day and captured the collapse on video as it occurred. Repair work and an investigation forced the Brewers to stay in County Stadium for one more year, until 2001. There was some talk of having the Brewers move to Miller Park in the middle of 2000, but it was determined that too many corners would need to be cut for it to be a realistic possibility.

The original grass playing surface was installed on March 10, 2001, with County Stadium's surface infield dirt and home plate transplanted into the new stadium.

Attendance

From the year Miller Park opened in 2001, the Brewers have averaged 31,783 fans per game, or 2,574,423 per season, while placing 11th out of 30 franchises in total attendance, despite having only seven winning seasons through the 2018 season, and having won only two MLB playoff series in just five total series appearances, and having the smallest market size of any Major League city. In 2011, the Brewers set a franchise record of 3,071,373, and beginning in 2004 they have attracted at least two-million fans; an ongoing streak of fifteen consecutive years, the twelfth longest in Major League history. Prior to Miller Park, the previous such consecutive streak in Milwaukee baseball history was four years, from 1954 to 1957.

Notable events

Baseball

On opening day April 6, 2001, President George W. Bush and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had first pitch honors for the stadium. The park hosted the 2002 MLB All-Star Game, which ended infamously in a tie.

Hurricane Ike's landfall in Houston forced the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros to play a two-game series at Miller Park on Sunday, September 14 and Monday, September 15, 2008. The park became the first neutral site in Major League history to host a no-hitter, when Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs threw the first no-hitter in the history of the park against the Houston Astros on Sunday, September 14, 2008. The next day, his teammate Ted Lilly, took a no-hitter into the 7th inning.

Bowling

Miller Park hosted the 2007 United States Bowling Congress Masters finals on Sunday, October 28, 2007. The playing surface was fitted with four bowling lanes for the tournament.

Pro football

Miller Park was one of the venues being considered for a United Football League expansion team according to former league commissioner Michael Huyghue. However, the Brewers maintain that Miller Park was not built with the intention of also fielding a football team, though the stadium in the early 90's was planned to have a football layout before the Packers decided to play in Green Bay full-time after the 1994 season and subsequent redesigns as a baseball-only facility.

Soccer

During the 2014 All-Star break, Miller Park hosted an untelevised international friendly match between Swansea City and Chivas of Guadalajara on July 16, 2014. The soccer pitch was laid out in a first baseline-to-left field configuration, with a narrower width than a standard soccer pitch due to the constraints of the field. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in front of about 31,000 in attendance.

During the 2015 All-Star Break, Miller Park hosted a friendly between Mexican side Club Atlas and English Premier League side Newcastle United on July 14, 2015. Club Atlas won the match 2-1.

After a three year hiatus, Miller Park once again hosted a friendly match between Mexican sides C.F. Pachuca and Club León. Pachuca won the match 3-1.

Arctic Tailgate

The Arctic Tailgate is an annual event where fans camp outside Miller Park the day before single game tickets are sold, which is usually the last weekend of February (it is delayed or moved into the stadium's heated concourse if the temperatures are well below 0 F for the safety of fans). The tradition is said to have started as early as the 1990s where Brewers fans would try to be the first to acquire tickets for Opening Day. Since 2006, the Brewers have made it an official event, even providing the waiting fans coffee, hot chocolate, and doughnuts in the morning, discounts on tickets for the first week of games in the season, as well as a free lunch consisting of a hot dog, chips, and a soda, eaten in a heated tent afterwards. Over 101,000 tickets were sold for the 2015 Arctic Tailgate.

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