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Sales slow for Milwaukee’s basketball at the ballpark doubleheader

Most folks probably don’t know we’re at the beginning of the 2022-2023 NCAA basketball season, so it’s not a surprise advance sales for a Friday University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s/women’s doubleheader at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, are slow.

The doubleheader features the women’s team vs. Kansas State at 3:30 p.m., and the men’s squad plays Stanford at 6:30 p.m. In theory, such a doubleheader featuring Badgers basketball should be an attraction in Milwaukee. But the novelty of watching two basketball games played on a court set up on the American Family Field infield apparently isn’t very compelling; neither is the prospect of an early-season contest featuring teams not traditionally considered Badgers rivals. (A doubleheader featuring Marquette would have likely generated much more interest.)

As you can see in the above rendering (courtesy Brew City Battle), unless you spring for the courtside seating, you could end up being quite a ways from the action. We’ve had the experience of seeing NCAA basketball played at a baseball facility–the Metrodome, both in the mandatory regular-season runthrough and then during the NCAA tournament–and in neither case could you argue it provided a top-notch experience. (No, we’re not talking a Houston/UCLA Astrodome experience here.) Add to the mix some fairly expensive tickets (though the low end upper-deck pricing was recently lowered to $19.50) and expensive parking ($10 for remote prepaid parking, $40 for good parking purchased day of), and the proposition gets less attractive. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

“People are still focused on some other things in the football space,” Mark Starsiak, vice president at event promoter Intersport, said. “And we’re experiencing what every event and venue and promoter that we’ve talked to across every sport across the country is, that people are buying stuff later nowadays. We’re anticipating a hopeful big rush next week as we continue to blitz the market leading into Friday and people start seeing it come to life.”

Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media company, had a big crowd in mind when it planned the event at American Family Field, which holds more than 41,000 for baseball. Starsiak said the group at least wanted to reach an attendance of 15,000 to 17,000 that can fill the Kohl Center.

“That number of people are used to enjoying and supporting Wisconsin basketball in the state of Wisconsin on campus there,” he said. “There was a big turnout for the regional last year. We were kind of hoping we’d get to that.”

No work on what the Brewers are changing for rent; the University of Wisconsin-Madison will receive $350,000.

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