Teams: Milwaukee Brewers

American Family Field

Milwaukee Brewers
Major League
Final Score

TL;DR?  Here’s the long-form piece in a nutshell:

Notable for its fan-shaped retractable roof, there’s a striking divergence of opinion on Miller Park between locals and ballpark enthusiasts.  Brewers fans have perhaps the strongest bond to their home park of any fanbase outside of Chicago and Boston, while stadium aficionados generally rank Miller Park toward bottom of the middle, often bottom 10.

I’ve always been particularly harsh on Miller Park, which is curious given how much fun I usually have here.  So much of the intangibles of a Brewers game—the awesome fans, the Milwaukee vibe, the unique ballpark traditions like the Sausage Race—are delightful.  But Miller Park falls short in virtually all other facets.

The tailgating experience is fantastic, but Miller Park is a classic “parking lot stadium,” and I’m always on team downtown baseball.  I don’t like the exterior’s gargantuan profile that screams “small town trying to be prime time” or its red brick facade, out of place for the non-urban setting, city, and roof technology.  Strong Elroy Jetson’s hat/Queen Victoria’s dress vibes!  I don’t know, there’s a certain structural elegance to it, and the roof has some subtle design elements compatible with the brick below, but it screams Steampunk.

Inside, the park feels dramatically overscaled.  Even when the roof is open, the park feels drab and enclosed. When the roof is closed, outfield panels let in no natural light.  Compared to retractable roof parks in Seattle and Houston, there is no visual sense of place here whatsoever, and it particularly lacks intimacy for only 42,000 seats.  Overall, the architecture inside and out does not reflect the city, independent of its unwieldy aesthetics.

Miller Park isn’t a particularly functional building for watching baseball.  All modern-day ballparks have upper decks too high and pushed back, but Miller Park is the worst offender, with four decks and little overhang.  The seating geometry can be problematic.  Seats in the upper deck lack cupholders, a rarity.  The main concourse is difficult to navigate with many confusing diversions and horizontal discontinuities.  The outfield concourse is barren and narrow.

There are some bright spots—a massive craft beer wall, the new left field brewery, and a (*checks notes*) new virtual golf zone—but even the amenities aren’t great.

This is a comparative exercise—all modern-day baseball-only venues are fine, including Miller Park—but I just don’t see how Miller Park compares well objectively speaking.  I love the atmosphere, but it scores dead last among post-Camden (post-1992) MLB ballparks not due for comprehensive renovations or replacement.