Miller Park

This past weekend I visited Milwaukee for the second time to catch the Brewers and Yankees in action on Saturday and Sunday. My last visit to Miller Park in 2012 was fairly short as I caught the game and left immediately for Madison as I was hitting Minneapolis the following day. This trip was going to be a little longer so I would have some time for sightseeing before the games.

Miller Park is a little outside the downtown area and public transportation isn’t great, so if you’re not driving in, you’ll need to rent a car. I used Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” function and ended up renting a Ford Focus for $12 a day (with insurance and gas it was $59). My flight and hotel were sponsored very generously by Bruce Christopher, who you may remember sponsored one of my flights to California during my 2012 ballpark tour.  He’s my best friend from Ohio State, Liz’s dad and wanted to help me out again this summer. I appreciate his continued support greatly, it made this trip happen, that’s for sure!

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Once at my hotel downtown I freshened up and headed to the Historic Pabst Brewery. It was only a mile away from my hotel and I took the walk as an opportunity to really see the downtown. My dad had mentioned to me that he’d read that Milwaukee was a lot like Cleveland and I can confirm that. It seemed very blue collar and had gorgeous, intricate, old buildings. Also, the River Walk and lake mirror a similar setup to Cleveland, though the lake is north of the city instead of to the east. Details.

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The old Pabst Brewery is an absolute gem and I was lucky enough to finagle a brief tour from my bartender. I had missed the last tour of the day by about a half hour, but after a quick chat, he gave me an abridged tour- complimentary too, I should add (normally $8). All the employees I met were quite passionate about the brewery and the beer’s history. The truly wanted to share it with you, no matter what! I loved my tour and actually enjoyed what I will call the most expensive PBR draft of my life ($3 ;)). My dad and some of my friend’s swear by this brand, but I tend to stick with Sam Adams. Maybe I will be less judgey of their choice in the future!

After hanging around the old brewery and briefly exploring the Brewhouse Hotel across the street, I headed back to the hotel to get my car and drive over to the game. General parking is $15 on weekends, but if you buy from the Brewers’ website a week in advance it’s $9. I purchased my ticket off StubHub for $24 and joined their rewards program. Waiting to purchase the day of worked out for this game, as ticket prices dropped.  I was happy to have a seat (which I never went up to) just in case and standing room only was $25 for this game. Again, Yankee pricing. It kills me when I see the series after with tickets going for only $9… ahh!

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Tailgating in Wisconsin might be a bigger event than the game itself. Again I was impressed with a number of people and the heavy drinking that ensued. I made some friends and had a beer before heading into the park for batting practice. Derek Jeter would be sitting this game out, so I was bummed but caught him warming up a little anyways. The stands by the Yankees dugout were packed with fans trying to get the Captain’s attention as he fielded balls and played catch. I wonder if he feels more like a zoo exhibit this season than a baseball player.

For this game, I did my normal walk around and watch from standing room sections and had a good view from all the vantage points. Since I’ve already scouted it out, I wanted to just take in the game, especially since my team was playing. This time I just wasn’t as impressed with the park. The roof was closed because there was the threat of rain and as neat as the architecture is in this stadium, it’s really impressive, baseball is not meant to be played inside. I didn’t like how big and empty the park felt and unless you’re in the stands you can’t hear the crowd very well, which detracts from the experience of being at the game. Even with the roof open the following day, I didn’t feel that much better about the park. It’s just ok to me. I’m glad I’ve visited it twice and I really do love Brewers fans. They’re super friendly and a good time- probably because they’re hammered pants.

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Pitcher duels are great when you’re watching the game, but they keep the fans in the stands until the end and make leaving a pain. I hung out in the park for a little bit before walking to my car and even then the parking lot was still packed. Dodger Stadium’s parking lot congestion is far worse though and you can always wait it out and chat with other fans. I made some new friends and before you knew it, the lot was cleared out and I had a quick ride back to my hotel.

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The following morning I woke up wide awake at 7:00 am. I have no idea why, but I got breakfast at the hotel and decided to squeeze in a quick visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum to take some pictures for my Auntie Re for Mother’s Day. Parking was free and though I didn’t go into the museum, I walked around outside and got to ride a motorcycle (in place) under supervision. It was pretty cool to go 55 mph on a bike and I can understand why so many people like riding them. I don’t think I’m going to become a motorcyclist anytime soon… far too many steps in switching gears!

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After my brief joy ride, I headed back to Miller Park for round two with the Brew Crew. Again I waited to buy my ticket day of off StubHub and received a $2 discount through the rewards program, making this ticket only $18. The game was much like the night before, though I watched most of it from the standing room behind home plate and along the third baseline.  As suggested by one of my readers, Ross, I tried the Barrelman Ale. According to him, it’s only sold in the ballpark and it’s actually really good! Nothing like a beer (yes just one) and baseball, the ultimate American pastime!

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This next paragraph is going to upset Brewers fans and I’m really sorry! The Sausage Race is super lame. There I said it, and there are no take backs. I know it’s the original and teams like the Nats and Indians have stolen your idea, but they’re better at it. Running (slowly) from third base to first isn’t exciting. I wasn’t impressed in 2012 and my feeling was confirmed this past weekend. Maybe I had too high of expectations for it? Either way, I’d rather watch Teddy and the other Presidents over the Sausages.

After the game (another Yankees loss!), I drove off to the airport ready to return to Columbus and digest my trip and think of how I would express my slight disappointment in this visit. It wasn’t my favorite by a long shot and I suppose they can’t all be the most exciting times. Also, my later airport fiasco didn’t help my sinking feeling about Miller Park. It’s worth the visit if you haven’t been, you owe all the parks a shot in my opinion. Twice was enough for me, unless I happen to be in town with free tickets, I don’t plan on going back anytime soon. Milwaukee the city, on the other hand, I will definitely be back for a weekend. Loved it!

Before this post ends, a few quick hits for you:

Budget Tips:

1. If renting a car, use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” tool. I saved $2 each day with it.

2. Buy parking at Miller Park in advance. Will save you $6 on weekends.

3. Tickets- depends on the team you’re seeing, but buying the day of on StubHub has worked best for me with the Yankees.

4. The best way to tour a city is on foot and it’s free.  Visit the city’s tourism website’s for coupons on area attractions and keep a look out on free activities (ex. Miller Brewery Tours).

Milwaukee Must Sees:

1. Miller Park if you haven’t (obviously!).

2. A brewery. This city has a rich brewing history, so do yourself a favor and tour at least one!

3. Harley-Davidson Museum, it’s an American brand!

4. River Walk. It’s a path along the river that connects a bunch of bars and restaurants.

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