The baseball offseason can be a boring and trying time for fans unless there is a period with a lot of free agent or trade activity. The Winter Meetings, held in December, usually mark the time when the offseason action ramps up into a higher gear. In 2012, the Meetings take place in Nashville from December 3-6. Until then, baseball fans need to find non-baseball ways to fill their time, or maybe explore baseball-related stuff that they didn’t get around to doing during the season, in order to get a baseball fix. One such activity is reading books on baseball, which is a nice indoor-friendly way to pass some time in the offseason. Another time-passing activity is to check the Internet for baseball coverage and baseball-related material. I recently read an e-guide on Miller Park by Kurt Smith of Ballpark E-Guides. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I’d never checked out an e-guide before. Plus, I already know a lot about Miller Park. Nevertheless, I was happy to find some information I didn’t know about Miller Park, and an abundance of detail about the rest of it. The Miller Park ballpark e-guide is a handy reference tool, especially for newbies, but also for those who have been around the scene a while.
Smith has done e-guides for a large number of MLB ballparks and he seems to know his stuff very well. One would have to guess that he has spent a considerable amount of time at Miller Park on repeat occasions, because it’s easy to miss a lot of the stuff covered in his guide if you’re only there for a few hours. Smith documents the culture of Miller Park and the tailgating scene quite well, introducing readers to the sights, sounds and smells of the stadium. The e-guide covers the many different ways to get tickets for a Brewers game, including tips on how to score seats cheaply (and how to best take advantage of discounts and giveaways). He documents the generosity of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club very well. Just last year the Brewers gave me two free club-level seats for taking a survey, so I can definitely appreciate what he’s saying about their bigheartedness. For those who are frugal, even by Miller Park’s standards, Smith includes what he calls ‘Tightwad Tips’ for further savings and wallet-watching.
The e-guide goes into great detail about the different levels and seating at Miller Park. It’s interesting to read how the levels at Miller Park differ from some other parks. Some of this detail I was familiar with already but some of it was new to me. I’ll often seek out seats in sections I’ve been in before, but after reading this guide, I may try to score seats in sections that I haven’t explored much previously. The guide really hammers home how great a value Miller Park is; even the more-expensive seating areas are relatively reasonably priced in many cases compared to other ballparks. I sat in the club level several times last year, taking what the escalator attendant called ‘the longest escalator in the state of Wisconsin’ up to the carpeted comfort there, and I was pleased to find that it didn’t break the bank. The e-guide has inspired me to check out the club level more (especially the bars and clubs up there) and to reach out into areas of the ballpark I haven’t really explored, like the ATI Zone on the field level in right field or the Left Field Loge Bar. I had always kind of wondered about Gate H-D, for example, and now I know that if you’re a H.O.G. member, you can get exclusive access to that gate. How nice that must be.
Smith goes into great detail about the different transportation options around Miller Park, especially the shuttles. I would have to disagree slightly with him, though, in that he stresses the Blue Mound bars, while I prefer the shuttles originating on the South Side or on National Ave near Miller Park, like the shuttle at The Jack bar on National. Or you can just have a few beers and walk from the Full Moon Saloon on National. You can park off National Ave pretty easily for free near the park. I guess I find those bars and those on the South Side to be less busy and chaotic, and therefore easier to handle on game days than the ruckus on Blue Mound.
In addition, Smith says tailgaters should arrive several hours before the game in order to get a decent spot. While early arrival is definitely preferable, in my experience one can arrive just an hour before the game and still get a good enough spot to where the walk is no problem. Even the Uecker section of the parking lot is only a 10-minute stroll from the ballpark. The e-guide says that free Wi-Fi is provided in some of the parking lots; I was unaware of that. Smith makes good points about shuttles and taxis, though. They are easy ways to get to and from the ballpark if you don’t have a car or a ride. I’ve taken cabs out of Miller Park numerous times and it’s always pretty pain-free. Another thing that’s possible is that after the game, you can get on a shuttle that is towards your destination and then take a bus or cab from that place on your way home. A few times I’ve just jumped onto a shuttle going to a place in downtown Milwaukee, thrown the driver a buck or two, and then continued on my way from wherever it dropped me off, miles away from Miller Park.
Smith also does a nice job covering the food options at Miller Park. I swear, I’ve been to Miller Park innumerable times, but some of these food options I’ve never heard of, or at least I didn’t notice them. I will have to look into a couple places he mentions, at least. Smith’s ballpark e-guides would probably be most helpful if you’re taking a road trip to ballparks around the country or, in the case of the Miller Park one, are visiting for the first time or first few times. Some of the information can certainly be found in other places, but it’s nice to have a comprehensive guide for reference. If you’re not intimately familiar with the ballpark, his insider info could be valuable to maximize your time at the park, help you save some money and ‘do as the locals do’.