Saturday, March 13, 2010

Road Trip Tidbits/Tips: Post #1 - Miller Park

Yes, it's Spring Training. Yes, there's Baseball news. But for some reason, I just don't feel motivated enough to blog about what's been happening with the Jays so far this Spring. Well, other than Marcum and Romero's combined awesomeness.

So for today, and also on upcoming days when I feel like blogging but I don't have anything to blog about, I will blog about Ballparks/Cities I've visited...sometimes the route we took, rest stops, etc. It might not be that coherent, but I'm just hoping I get all important details in.

Here's my first one - dedicated to my current fave non-home ballpark. All photos taken by our group.

Miller Park
Visited July 10-12, 2009 - Brewers hosting LA Dodgers
Photo taken by Sis

We drove around to Milwaukee from Toronto, spending the night in Kalamazoo on the way. The Motel6 we stayed at was VERY cheap...but sketchy. Served its purpose, but next time we go we probably won't stay at that particular motel again. One thing we've learned from our various road trips is to be sure to stay at a hotel with restaurants around, especially if you don't have included breakfast at the hotel. There were no rest stops along the interstate which caused some worries, but there was a really nice Pilot in Indiana not too far before the exit to drive through Gary. Drove through Chicago's parking lot :P Took us an hour just to get through the city thanks to lovely lunch hour the rain.

US Cellular Field Drive-By Photo

The hotel we stayed at in Milwaukee is located in West Milwaukee and was recommended online as being the best if you are going to watch the Brewers - Best Western Woods View Inn. The parking lot is a bit small, but parking is free. If you get there close enough to check-in, you should have no problem getting a spot. A big plus is that if you check out the day there's an afternoon game, they have no problem letting you stay parked there after you check out. The hotel has a free continental breakfast included. HUGE bonus. The elevator's a bit small, but our room was located on the 2nd floor so we just took the stairs. The staff is extremely courteous from the moment you walk in the doors.

I'm not sure if all rooms are the same, but our room had a mini kitchen area that included a fridge and a microwave along with plates and cutlery. The beds are double beds, so it can be kinda squishy if you're sharing.

Being in West Milwaukee, there isn't really THAT much around so we didn't really get to check anything out. We were within walking distance from a couple of bars, a Taco Bell/Long John Silver's and a Walgreens (perfect for photo printing opportunities and drink/snack shopping). I'm not sure if it's changed since we last went, but Wisconsin still allowed smoking in bars back then, so we weren't able to partake in any form of nighttime fun due to not being able to breathe from the heavy smoke. We DID order pizza our first night there from Pepe's Pizza (number was available in the hotel guide) and the pizza was REALLY good. Perfect if you're in a tight bind :)

But the biggest perk about the hotel was the location to the ballpark. It's literally a 10-minute walk maximum from Miller Park. Front Desk even provides maps on how to walk there. The walk is a tiny bit secluded but it is very safe to walk.

Our first game was on a Friday night. Now, the Brewers only have this promotion for kids 14 and up now. But last year it was available to everyone. Autograph Fridays. Select players would sign autographs - one at each section with about 6-7 players/coaches/alumni signing. We went because I wanted to meet Ryan Braun and he was one of the players scheduled to sign that day. Absolute mayhem, and the line was cut off before we even got to the section. It didn't stop me from having the chance to meet him, though that was mostly because of the usher in the section and Ryan's awesomeness. But I digress, somewhat :P

Ryan Braun signing autographs for fans at Autograph Friday

The staff are very friendly at Miller Park, and quite competent. But then again, I'm used to the Rogers Centre where 99% of the employees probably don't even know the team's name. To add to the staff, the fans were absolutely amazing. We met a few people that we started to talk to, and when they found out we were from Toronto, they started asking us questions about our team, along with "so when are you gonna trade Halladay to us?" But one of the best things about the fans was that they thanked us for visiting Miller Park and their city and they hoped we'd have a great time.

I can't really comment on ticket prices too much since we splurged on StubHub since tickets were quite sold out due to the visiting team being the Dodgers. Though for one game we did purchase tickets behind the visitor's dugout for $100US each through the Brewers online ticketing. The seats were DEFINITELY worth the money. Friday night we sat 2nd row between 3rd Base and LF. Our last day there we didn't splurge, but we sat in the bleachers behind the Dodgers bullpen.

Friday Night View (with zoom) - Prince Fielder at bat

Saturday Night View (partial zoom)

Sunday View - Dodgers Bullpen

The atmosphere was electric all 3 games, even when the Brewers were losing. Actually, for about a half hour during Batting Practice (or between BP and the game), the only music played is on the ballpark organ. There's Bernie going down the slide anytime a Brewer hit a home run. When Catalanotto went up to bat, his at-bat music was "Your Love" by The Outfield and the whole crowd sang along. I also got goosebumps when it was Trevor Time. Something about hearing Hell's Bells in person with a future Hall of Famer running to the mound was just so completely epic.


It's Trevor Time

The Sausage Race is even better in person than on TV. The Friday night we were there, one of the physiotherapists or something for the Dodgers was Italian and Andre Ethier started cheering her on. Seriously, the race is absolute MAYHEM! I was happy I was able to see Chorizo win lol

Sausage Race! Go Chorizo!

7th Inning Stretch - The tradition at Miller Park is singing along with the polka song, "Roll Out The Barrel". Nothing quite like singing along about beer lol

Speaking of beer, the one downside was that since it's Miller Park...all the beer is Miller. Not a huge fan, but hey, can't get too picky when your home park serves Bud :P

The food is VERY good. Each day I made sure to have a Klement's Brat....and I had to put the Stadium Sauce on it. SO good. Another recommendation is the deep fried cheese curds. If you buy a pop (or soda if you're American :P), be sure to get it in the huge souvenir glass. Well worth the money.

In terms of merchandise, there are 2 stores located in the lower level. There was also a t-shirt printing booth that made jersey tees.

Our one "downfall" was that anytime we go on road trips for Baseball, it ALWAYS rains. Miller Park has been the only "Dome" we've been to on the road. Our Milwaukee trip was the only trip with zero rain, so we never got to see the roof closed lol

I THINK I've covered all of the bases. If not, you can always leave a comment with a question and I can try to answer it :)

ACCIDENTAL OMISSION! I can't believe I forgot to mention the tailgating!!!! We weren't able to participate, but it's an active culture at Miller Park. It was suggested to me by fans on the Brewers forum, but yeah...we weren't able to participate. Can't believe I forgot that *facepalm*

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