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A beer river runs through it, Rafters style

Wisconsin Rapids RaftersIf you’ve always wanted your ballpark beer delivered to you on a raft floating down a stream, you’re in luck: the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) are installing a water-powered bar at historic Witter Field for the 2015 season.

The Point Craft River is an all-inclusive, 80-foot-long seating venue located underneath the Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa Rat Trap, down the third-base side of the ballpark. Made possible through a new partnership with Stevens Point Brewery — not just for breakfast anymore! — the Point Craft River is a built-in river system delivering canned craft beer to the fans via rafts down a live water current. The all-inclusive venue will provide fans an opportunity to purchase a $27 (general admission) or $30 (reserved seat) game ticket, giving them unlimited craft beer through the end of the seventh inning. Food will also be provided through the end of the fifth inning as part of the ticket price as well. The reserved ticket includes a seat at the water-powered bar, while the general-admission ticket will provide access to tables behind the bar. The venue will be available to both the walk-up crowd as well as groups of any size.

“This is going to be a one-of-a-kind venue that is unique to the entire world and it’s going to be right here in Wisconsin Rapids,” said Rafters general manager John Fanta. “There’s no precedent to go off of for this.  We looked into trying to find if there was another bar that had a river built into it and we couldn’t find one.”

The first 40 fans that purchase a reserved seat to the Point Craft River each night will get a numbered raft and a beverage menu and will sit in the seat that corresponds to the number on their raft. A row of high-top tables will be located behind the bar area for the general-admission ticket holders in the venue. The general-admission ticket will come with all of the same amenities of the reserved seat except for the individually numbered raft and direct access to the river.

“Fans will send their craft beverage order along with their numbered raft on a zip line down to a center service area,” Fanta added. “The bartender will fill the order by placing a canned craft beer — whichever kind you order — into the raft and float it back down to them via the river.”

The team has worked to keep all facets of the project local by partnering with companies such as NextGen Logs, Eron & Gee Herman’s Plumbing and Heating, and Point Brewery. Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink suggested using NextGen Logs because its chief product — concrete logs — ties in with the Rafters log theme at Witter Field.

“It’s a no-maintenance log siding,” said NextGen co-owner Jim Bord. “The color is right in the concrete, so it never has to be re-stained or painted. And it’s lightweight; it doesn’t weigh any more than traditional log siding for about the same price.”

Like many other of the member involved, Bord is looking forward to the project being unveiled. “We’ve done concrete bars, but never anything like this.”

The heart of the bar design will be the river, which will flow in two different directions, originating from a main central service area. The implementation of that unique feature will be the task of Kelly Rosekrans, project manager with Eron & Gee Herman’s Plumbing and Heating.

“I’m not an engineer, but I guess if it has to do with beer, I can help them out,” Rosekrans said in reference to the Rafters new project. “On my end, I know it will work. It will take some tweaking on my end to make it go, but I’m confident it will work.”

The partnership with Stevens Point Brewery is the driving force behind bringing the state-of-the-art venue to Witter Field. Eighteen of the 24 craft beers offered in the Point Craft River will be provided by Point Brewery, which has the naming rights and sponsorship of the area.

“I had never heard of a river built into a bar — especially one that will serve beer to customers,” said Julie Birenkott, director of marketing for Point Brewery. “I thought it was really creative how they can tie together well-known icons—the Wisconsin River and Point beers—all in one.”

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