The Milwaukee Brewers are the largest baseball team in Wisconsin. They represent Milwaukee in the Central Division of the National League, despite originating in Seattle and being developed in Atlanta.
The team was established in 1966 and played in the American League for almost thirty years, making them one of the oldest teams in the league. The team enjoyed some success in this time, and are now considered serious contenders in the National League.
Establishment of the Club
The roots of the club lie with Bud Selig, a local car dealer who set up “Teams Inc.” in 1964. His local team, which he wanted to remain locally run, was the Braves. After a gallant struggle, the team eventually moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in order to attract more lucrative television contracts.
‘Teams Inc.’ was then changed to the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club Inc. The name dated back to 1901, when a team had participated in Major League Baseball under that name. It was the Minor League success of this team that drew the Braves to the area from Boston.
In an attempt to regenerate interest in the sport in the area, Selig organised a series of exhibition matches at the Milwaukee County Stadium. It was a huge success and set Selig in good stead to establish a franchise for the area.
It was not to be, however, and Milwaukee was not awarded a franchise place in the league. Selig did not lose hope, and decided to try to buy a club elsewhere and bring it to Milwaukee.
Selig’s main interest was in the Seattle Pilots. They were one of the teams that had been awarded a franchise over Milwaukee, but did not look as though they would perform well. Financial difficulties, and arguments regarding the time when the team should start, were just some of the problems that led to the team’s poor start.
The team’s home, the Slick’s Stadium, was another sore point. The expansion was delayed and the team were effectively bankrupt by the end of the first season. Much of this was owing to poor attendance. The team were set to build a new stadium at Seattle, but Selig saw his opportunity to secure Milwaukee a franchise and blocked the development.
Selig was set to buy the team for in excess of $10 million, but the move was blocked by two Washington senators. Soriano, the main owner, was keen to sell, with the team falling into deeper financial trouble each season.
In the run up to the 1970 season, Soriano declared himself bankrupt. This was in direct response to another injunction from the Washington State, preventing Selig from buying the team. The legal proceedings that followed, meant that all players, coaches etc. were free to leave the team and play in the 1970 season elsewhere. The kit and players were moved almost instantly to Milwaukee where the new Brewers team was born.
The First Years as the Brewers
Nobody had expected any great achievements from the Brewers, given the circumstances of their formation. This appeared to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the Brewers failed to make any real headway into the league until 1978. The first winning season for the team saw them finish third behind rivals, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Much of the team’s early success was down to their strong record in hitting home runs. This was almost entirely the work of batters, Cecil Cooper and Ben Olgivie. They came second in the league in 1979, and then third again the year later.
The first major achievement was winning the American League Pennant in 1982. Their impressive home run record also made them record breakers that season. They were the first team to come back to win a play off series, having gone two games down.
A Dip in Form
After these promising few years, the Brewers suffered heavily in the league. Poor management under Phil Garner and financial problems were to blame. Garner managed to secure them their best finish for a decade in 1982, when they came second in the league. They only trailed the World Championship winners, the Toronto Blue Jays, by four games.
Restructuring of the League
In 1994, Major League Baseball underwent massive changes in terms of the playoff system. It was announced that each league would now be divided into three divisions, rather than just two. This meant that the Brewers would form part of the new league, the American League Central.
The formation of two new teams, who entered the Major Baseball League, led to further restructuring. In 1998, the American and National Leagues each had fifteen teams. For intra-league play to be feasible, however, there needed to be an even number of teams in each league.
The chance to move leagues was a good financial opportunity, and it was first offered to the Kansas City Royals. Thankfully for the Brewers, the Royals opted to remain in the American League. This meant that attendance at the Brewers’ games was boosted significantly, bringing urgently needed revenue to the club.
Selig bizarrely handed management over to his daughter in 1994. Fans seemed slightly dubious with this move at first, and as she appeared to squander the club’s fresh opportunities. The team suffered another relatively unsuccessful decade.
The Brewers were sold to a banker from Los Angeles in 2004. Mark Attanasio is said to have paid $180 million for the team, and the hard work he has put into the club reflects his investment. A number of astute business decisions led to him winning the hearts of fans quickly.
His first move was to reinstate the old logo from the period when the club enjoyed most of its success. This means that the club now has two official logos, the older hand and glove logo being referred to as the ‘retro logo’.
Another ploy was to allow all the spectators in free for the final home game in his first season. This loss-leader technique has led to the club generating more revenue since he took over, than in the entire previous decade.
After such a promising start, fans were disappointed with Attanasio’s second season. In fitting with the retro uniforms, Attanasio also brought back ’80s stars, Yount and Veum, to help coach the team. This proved too much of a difficult task for the veterans, however. A series of financially essential transfers set the team back even further.
It is yet to be seen whether the Brewers can overcome this and step back into the limelight as one of the league’s more serious teams. Negative attitudes within the camp are said to have hindered their 2007 season. Despite this, it still remained as their best season since 1992, and could be a welcome sign of things to come.
Miller Park is the Brewer’s home ground, and one of their proudest assets. After decades of planning, construction began in 1997. The park’s ground opening was April 6th 2001, and drew massive crowds and much needed funds to the club.
The stadium cost in excess of $400 million to construct, $310 million of which came from public funding. The capacity is 43,000, a huge figure, considering that the ground is used solely for baseball. Most stadia this size are home to teams of several different disciplines.
Under the stadium’s distinctive fan-shaped convertible roof lies one of baseball’s most advanced viewing arenas. It boasts a massive 48 by 37 foot replay screen, four different levels of seating in a unique orientation and the usual attractions of a modern baseball stadium.
Seating and Tickets
Seating prices range from $36 to $60 per game. Special offer bundles are sometimes available where 4 seats can be bought for the entire season, equating to around $5 per seat per game.
Tickets can be bought either on the telephone on 414-902-4000 or online at the Official Club Website.
In addition to the normal seating, the stadium has various suites available to rent. Club suites hold 20 seats and offer a full private buffet, whilst honorary members are mentioned on the scoreboard during games. Entry to the suite also offers the chance to join the 300 Club, a private members’ club that gives access to the Home Plate Bar and Lounge. Suites can be rented for $3,200 for regular games and $4,200 for Marquee games.
- Address: The Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park, One Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214
- Telephone: 414-902-4487
Directions and Parking
The park is well signposted, and can be seen easily from the I-94. Access to the park by road is from the I-94, travelling in either direction; when approaching the park take the exit onto Mitchell Boulevard and proceed under the bridge to the park.
The different parking sections are clearly signposted. Parking costs $15 per car on game days, $12 in advance, for the preferred parking. The general parking is $8 on the day and $7 in advance, and is only a short walk from the stadium entrance. The park opens 90 minutes before week day games, and two hours prior to weekend matches.