Hamilton wasn’t the only tickets we had while we were in Chicago for J’s birthday. A baseball game was part of the weekend festivities as well.
J’s birthday always falls around Opening Day of Major League Baseball. She and I actually went to opening day at US Cellular Field (now Guaranteed Rate Field) a few years ago. It was fine, but it was actually kind of a pain in the butt. Us Southsiders aren’t used to large crowds in our stadium so showing up an hour before the game and not being able to find parking was frustrating.
Opening Day this year fell after we headed back to Michigan, but we were still able to squeeze in a little Major League Baseball by going to the last preseason game up in Milwaukee.
My brother noticed a couple of months ago that the White Sox were playing the Milwaukee Brewers the weekend prior to Opening Day. We talked about going, forgot about it, eventually remembered, and when I checked for tickets, they were incredibly cheap, so we planned a huge family outing.
I bought 10 tickets that day. Our family, my brother’s family, and my parents were all interested in going. None of us had been to a game in Milwaukee and it was going to be B’s first MLB game, so we planned a big trip.
Miller Park has been home to the Milwaukee Brewers since 2001. The team had played in Milwaukee County Stadium since the Brewers came in to the American League in 1970. Miller Park was built right next door to the old stadium on the west side of Milwaukee.
The stadium is right off I-94 with what is pretty much it’s own exit at Miller Park Way. The ramps guide you in to a series of parking lots surrounding the stadium. The exits are all very well marked and quite honestly, this was the easiest time I have ever had getting in to a ballpark parking lot. One set of ramps took you to premium parking which was prepaid. Another ramp took you to the cash lots. Cost to park was $12 because it was still a preseason game. During the season, weekend and Cubs games are $15 to park.
We were parked in the “Yount Lot” on the east side of the Menomonee River. It’s a little bit of a hike back to the ballpark from this lot using Selig Drive. You have to walk back under Miller Park using the Hank Aaron State Trail to get to your destination. This brings you in to the back side of the ball park on the third base side.
One thing I want to mention before moving on is the parking lot atmosphere. One of the great things about going to White Sox games is the tailgating. Guaranteed Rate Field has enough surface lots around it that tailgating is part of the game day activities. I’ve been to a few downtown parks over the last few years where tailgating isn’t allowed because there’s not enough room. I love the move towards downtowns that sports arenas have been making, but I wish they could find a balance between being downtown and being able to tailgate. Miller Park is kind of out on it’s own away from the city center so there were plenty of people unpacking their grills and setting up games of cornhole in the parking lots. An atmosphere I’m used to and park of the sport that I really enjoy….although we had four kids with us, so we went right inside.
I have never been to an indoor baseball game before so I didn’t know what to expect when we got to Miller Park. I have been to indoor football in Detroit and Dallas and I still think it’s weird. I found out, indoor baseball feels weird as well.
The first thing I noticed was that the entrance to the park isn’t giant metal gates. It’s doors. You’re going into a building. The roof was closed on the day we were there so that made sense that it felt like you were going inside, but I imagine it must feel weird when the roof is open.
Right outside that gate is the Brewers Wall of Honor. It’s kind of like a Hall of Fame for former players, coaches, and executives. Each inductee has a plaque on the wall with a synopsis of their service to the Brewers organization.
We had to go through MAGS and bag search when we got inside. Once our tickets were scanned, we went through the line and they were handing out food vouchers. Not only did we only pay $15 for our tickets, all of the tickets came with a $10 food voucher, so most of our food was going to be covered for the day.
We got to the park a little after noon for a 1:10 CST game time. Noon in Milwaukee is 1:00 in Kalamazoo so our kids were getting hungry. We hit up the concession stands right away.
The first thing we came to when we made it through the doors was almost a big food court area. There was a giant bar right in the middle with plenty of Miller Light and Leinenkugel on tap.
They had some craft options which I’ll get to in a little bit, but first, we needed food.
The traditional concession stands had pretty long lines, but we noticed a couple of stands off to the side that had no lines at all. One of them was for Mac & Cheese and the other was for Deli Sandwiches. Guess where we went.
L wanted Mac & Cheese so that’s what we got her. They had options for meat mix-ins, but L’s a lot like her mom when it comes to mac & cheese. We got her just a plain bowl of mac & cheese. It was a lot of what you’d expect for ballpark food. It was good, but incredible. The corkscrew pasta had a cheese on it that coated it, but didn’t make a mess. There was no extra cheese in the bottom of the cup, just what was on the pasta.
Right next to the Mac & Cheese stand was the Sandwich stand. We got L’s lunch then I got myself a pastrami sandwich. The fresh sliced pastrami comes on marbled rye bread with chips and a pickle spear. There was only a couple slices of meat on the bread, but, hey, again, it’s ballpark food. It was a tasty sandwich and the addition of fries and the pickle actually made me feel better about the $12 price tag. I’d be pissed if I got this sandwich at a restaurant, but at a sports stadium, it’s hard to complain.
We noticed my parents in line at the concession stands so we went there next. J got a hot dog and cheese fries for herself along with a Pepsi. We used up our last two vouchers here then headed to our seats to eat.
As I mentioned earlier, this was still a preseason game, so there were only about 15,000 people in the stadium which holds just under 42,000. Of those 15,000 I’d pretty safely say about half were White Sox fans. The Sox don’t play Milwaukee every year anymore, so getting to a game at Miller Park to see the Sox play there is rare. Milwaukee is just under two hours from Chicago and a lot of people took advantage of the ticket prices, the indoor game in April, and the short trip to take in some Saturday afternoon baseball.
I got us seats about ten rows behind the White Sox dugout on the third base side. I went a little closer to home plate to try to get out of the way of foul balls. I knew the three girls weren’t going to be paying attention and the rest of us would be trying to keep a 1 year old entertained too.
Just like I imagined, being inside for a baseball game took some getting used to. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat outside in rain, snow, cold, heat, and everything in between, so the climate controlled dome is nice. It just takes some getting used to.
When we got to the park, food was a priority, so we didn’t walk around much. The kids didn’t really care about seeing the park like the adults did. They wanted food and then some time to play and talk. My brother’s kids and L don’t see each other often enough so when they get together things can be wild.
Once we got everyone settled down, I asked if it was OK if I took a walk. I wanted a beer anyway, so that gave me an excuse to check out more of the park.
No matter what I did in the park, everything kept coming back to this being an indoor stadium. The concourse walkway felt more like an arena than a baseballs stadium. Everything is so enclosed. There’s really no open air anywhere when the roof is closed and even when it’s open, the only thing outside is right over the field.
We were sitting pretty close to behind home plate, so my walk around the concourse took me to a standing room section directly behind home. Later in the game, this is also where I would stand to rock B to sleep. Little trooper made it through about the first four innings of his first Major League Baseball game, but then he passed out hard. Cheering, screaming, loud music…nothing woke him up during his 40 minute mid-game nap.
Directly behind home plate is the Brewer’s Team Shop. This is actually kind of a cool design. While a lot of stuff at Miller Park feels really enclosed, the team shop has an open feeling and really blends in to the concourse. The walls are all windows so you can see in and out of the store. I didn’t go in….for obvious reasons. I already had my Sox jersey on.
I didn’t make it too far around the concourse. I found Guest Services and noticed they had a stack of certificates for kids attending their first Brewers game. I wanted to get one for B because it was his first MLB game so I wanted the souvenir. And of course, since we got one for B, we had to get one for L. I mean, technically, it was her first Brewers game so she got one too.
I walked back to our seats to get L and the kids so we could go get the certificates. I did have to make one little stop on the way back though.
There were beer stands all over the place…which is something you would expect in Milwaukee and a stadium named Miller Park. In addition to the traditional beer stands, I found a couple of these “Marketplaces.” It’s a little self-service place with bottles of pop, cans of beer, and bags of snacks. There was no line, so I hopped in here to grab a beer on my way back to my seat.
I grabbed a bottle of Pepsi and a beer then headed back to my seat.
I know, being in Miller Park, I probably should have had a Miller, but I only drink Miller Lite when I’m drinking with my dad and my dad wasn’t drinking that day. I went with another Wisconsin beer. Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing. I mean, when in Rome….right? They had other Wisconsin options, but I went with a known one just because it just felt right drinking a Spotted Cow while in Wisconsin.
I was a little surprised, but we actually made it through the ninth inning. All of the kids were good. B kind of walked back and forth between adults. He wanted to take off down the stairs, but we distracted him enough. The girls were having a blast eating junk food and telling each other stories. Before the day was over, we added popcorn and ice cream to list of foods that we brought back to our seats.
Miller Park has kind of been one of those places we have been talking about going to for years but never have. We almost didn’t pull the trigger with this one, but I’m happy we did. The park is great. I know I kept harping on indoor baseball, but I have to admit, being comfortable at a baseball game in April was pretty nice. We never would have taken the kids to a game in Chicago this early in the year. It was nice having my parents there for B’s first baseball game. They were there for L’s a few years ago as well. White Sox games were such an important part of my childhood and I love being able to make new memories for my parents with my kids. I would have liked for B to have gone to his first White Sox game at The Rate (is that what we’re calling that place now? What the hell?), but Milwaukee worked out just fine.