Big offseason changes for the Milwaukee Brewers: the team is proceeding with the rebranding of Miller Park into American Family Field, while proposing a capacity of 35 percent for 2021 games.
The renaming of American Family Field was a long time in the works, announced in January 2020. This month the Miller Park signs have been taken down, replaced by the American Family Field logo, with other freeway signage and interior signage being changed as well.
The Brewers open the 2021 season on April 1 against the Minnesota Twins, and the Brewers have requested a total crowd size up to 16,000 (or up to 35 percent of American Family Field capacity) from the city. American Family Field sports a retractable roof and outfield panels that can be opened, with the team keeping temps in the ballpark lower than normal in order to facilitate air flows. Also, what we had always noted as a deficiency in the ballpark design–it occupies an enormous footprint needed to support the massive roof machinery–is now an asset, as folks can be spread throughout a tremendous area. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“The great news about American Family Field is the way the ballpark is configured, the concourses, the seating configuration, the four levels, we’re able to get to about 35%, which depending on how you calculate it is somewhere between 14,500 and 16,000 fans, socially distanced in pods, obviously with operations for concessions for fans to eat and drink, sitting in their seats. Otherwise, masked for the entirety with a whole bunch of protocols,” [president of business operations Rick] Schlesinger said.
“The plan addresses concessions, parking, staffing, seating, bathrooms, concourse migration, ingress and egress throughout the ballpark. The beauty of it is the ballpark is 1.2 million square feet and we have a retractable roof and retractable panels, and a new ventilation system we installed this offseason.
“So, a lot of ways to ensure to the health department that we can do this safely and responsibly but also making sure fans and players and staff and front-line workers are comfortable in that environment. … There are so many places where we can socially distance but bring somewhat of a sense of a normal baseball experience to fans.”
Miller Park opened in 2001 as the replacement to Milwaukee County Stadium. The original Miller brewery is within eyesight of Miller Park, dating back to 1855. Miller High Life was introduced in 1903 and Miller Lite in 1975, forever giving the baseball world a series of unforgettable commercials featuring the likes of Bob Uecker and his seats in the front row. But MillerCoors ceased being a Wisconsin-owned concern in 2002 after a buyout from South African Breweries, first under the SABMiller name and then in 2008 when SABMiller and Molson Coors were combined to former MillerCoors, now headquartered in Chicago. The privately held American Family Insurance is headquartered in Madison, WI.