American Family Field
Review by Gary
Milwaukee’s American Family Field opened in 2001 and sits adjacent to the site where once stood the venerable County Stadium. Nestled at the confluence of Interstate 94 and State Highway 175, the ballpark is quite a way from downtown Milwaukee and rises up from the Earth with a concrete and steel exoskeleton that culminates in a fan-shaped retractable roof.
With heavy rain in the forecast, the roof was closed, and justly so as it would protect the 39,000+ fans (capacity 41,900) from the deluge and lightning display that would arrive in the later innings. After paying the extra “Milwaukee Bucks” to park in one of the lots named for past Brewers greats (parking on weekends and for Cubs games is $5 more than weekdays), the walk from car to stadium left me both thirsty and hungry.
The stadium boasts an outstanding food selection (we supped on brats, cheesy pizza, custardy custard, and disappointing cheese curds). Unpleasant food servers at one concessionaire were made for up by exceptional Guest Relations people who more than compensated for the original offending transaction.
Given Milwaukee’s proud baseball history, I was surprised to find that the team’s Hall of Fame plaques were hung on the outside of the stadium and not anywhere where most of the fans would see them. Inside, key notable events were under-played, like teensy championship banners that were barely noticeable under the press box and Bernie the Brewer’s Chalet, which sits high above the left field wall and was never illuminated with a spotlight, especially after a Milwaukee homer.
We were quite surprised to find that the air inside was almost as foggy as it was outside. The tight quarters high behind home plate were so stifling that we moved to seats in the right field corner. We wondered why the Brewers didn’t turn on the AC as droplets of sweat formed on our brows and we shifted uncomfortably on plastic seats. It wasn’t until after the game that we discovered that American Family Field does NOT have air conditioning due to their generally cool northern climate.
I did like the jagged dimensions of the outfield wall, particularly the on-field seating in right field. Cool tabletop Octoberfest styled seat with tables allow fans to enjoy their schnitzel and beer, party-style, while taking in the game below them. The stadium has some good sightlines, but also has quirky dark corners around the concourse and up high under the roof. I suppose that’s what you get when you put a baseball field inside a square building.
Glass panels beyond the outfield fence that let in natural light closed at night and, apparently, during thunderstorms. The clear windows above the stands along the baselines do not close and we were treated to a spectacular natural light show later in the game from our right field vantage point.
While I really enjoyed the game at American Family Field, I think I would have rather watched a game under the stars with the skeletal roof open to let the fog flow in and out with the Lake Michigan winds. Although, considering the weather, I am thankful for the roof, because without it, there would have been no game at all.