Big League Stew - MLB

Back in the early '70s, when my dad was a college student, Milwaukee was a mecca. The drinking age was still only 18, County Stadium served their beer by the bucket and the ushers would let him in for free if he presented the ticket stub from that afternoon's Cubs game.

Almost 40 years later, he still talks fondly about cruising up I-94 for a Brewers' night game.

Thing is, apart from the beer being a lot more expensive and actually needing a ticket to gain entry, not much has changed with a few decades and the Brewers' move to Miller Park. The tailgating is still great, the people are just as friendly and Milwaukee is again home to a competitive baseball team.

On my list of favorite things to do, a summer road trip to Miller Park ranks right near the top. I'm going to drop some video showing just how fun a trip to The Good Land can be a little later. But until then, check out how to experience Miller Park like a local ... 

For an insider's look at visiting Miller Park, follow the jump. To submit tips on your home ballpark, e-mail 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com. Upcoming parks on the schedule include Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and Yankee Stadium.

Facts and figures (More at Ballparks.com)

Address: 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI, 53214, (414) 902-4400

Opened: 2001

Capacity: 43,000

Cost: $400 million

Dimensions: Left field 344 feet; left field power alley 370 feet; center field 400 feet; right field power alley 374 feet; right field power alley 374 feet; right field 345 feet; backstop 56 feet

Biggest (Brewers', not All-Star) moment: Prince Fielder, 23, hits his 50th homer of the season on Sept. 25, 2007, becoming the youngest player ever to accomplish the feat. 

Fun fact: It takes about 10 minutes for the $50 million roof to open or close.

Resources

• Buy tickets ($8-$60) • Seating chart • Stadium info • Milwaukee.org

How to get there

"Miller Park is very easy to get to via car. Getting in and out of the Miller Park lots is much easier than it was at County Stadium. Plus, you have to take the car if you want to tailgate, which is a must if you are going to a Brewer game for just one time.

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"However, if you hit up several games a year, you don’t need to tailgate every time (for your health’s sake). If you are not going to tailgate, I would suggest stopping at one of the many bars on Bluemound Road that offer shuttle service to the game. I would suggest Slim McGinn’s and utilize their “Slimousine” service. Their drivers don’t take ant crap from other drivers or pedestrians and liberally use the horn on the “Slimo.” They drop you off right at the front gate and pick you up in the same spot after the game. You can buy some beer for what you save on parking." — Ben Goldsworthy, Chuckie Hacks 

"It all comes down to if you are tailgating or not. If you tailgate, you can go in at several different entrances either on side streets or right off the I-94. But if you aren’t doing the tailgate thing, taking the shuttles from Bluemound Ave. is the game. They drop you off right at the front gate and they are free.  Goldy mentioned using the Slimo at McGinn's, but I prefer Steve's on Bluemound (which is right across the street).  It’s a younger crowd of people, and the waitresses are more “friendly” and “talented." — Adam Woznicki, Chuckie Hacks 

"Parking at the stadium ranges from $8-$15, but is a must if you want to tailgate, a Wisconsin tradition." — Tamra Reynolds 

"If you're coming to Miller Park from the south, make sure to arrive at Miller Park via the I-894 bypass and not by going all the way through downtown and then west on I-94. As far as I can tell, Milwaukee roads have never NOT been under construction and you'll save yourself a major headache by avoiding it all." — 'Duk

Before and after the game

"Visitors from the south must visit Bobby Nelson's in Kenosha to stock up on tailgating meat. It's right next to the more touristy Mars Cheese Castle and features the best sausages you'll ever eat. My favorite is the jalapeno cheddar. Try just one and I guarantee you'll be stopping on the way home to stock up with more." — 'Duk

"Before or after the game, you must visit Fourth Base. It's a great little bar a few blocks away from the Stadium, with an unbelievable collection of sports memorabilia, including Harvey Kuenn's prosthetic leg!  Great food, but ask for prices beforehand or you could get shocked!" — T.R.

"The best spot before the game is the Miller Park parking lots for a tailgate. If you are from out of town and don’t have a group of people to tailgate with, just wander around the lots and you will find some friendly Wisconsinites willing to let you have some of their food and beer ... If you have some time to kill before the lots open up, I would suggest heading down to Lake Michigan and walking around on the lakefront. You don’t realize how wonderful it is having a massive lake in your town until you have lived in Kansas for a few years. The Milwaukee Art Museum on the lake is a cool structure and definitely worth a visit. You can also bum around the Third Ward for the afternoon and grab some drinks at a hip watering hole. If you have a lot of time to kill, I suggest a trip west to Madison. The problem with that, though, is you might not want to come back for the Brewers game." — B.G.

"The options are endless after the game. If you want to hang out with people who were at the stadium, the bar that will be packed on Bluemound is Kelly’s Bleachers. If it's a Saturday day game, though, I would suggest heading downtown after and take advantage of the weather. Duke's on Water Street has dollar beers until 9 p.m. all day, every day. If you want to sit outside hit up McGillicuddy’s (also on Water Street) and sit on the back patio. If you want to sit on the river and watch boats go by, hit up The Harp, which is right down the street from McGillicuddy’s & Duke's. If it’s a Saturday night game, look out on Water Street at Bar Louie & McGillicuddy’s after because those places will be absolutely rowdy. The Twins series brings in just a ridiculous crowd. Be prepared to see some good old fashioned ribbing in the bars after those games between the fans." — A.W.

"If you're staying downtown and willing to pony up $10-15 for a cab, there are two bars in the Bay View neighborhood that are a must visit. At Random is like stepping into the 1950's and expecting that The Rat Pack is going to walk in at any minute. They do only specialty drinks — no beer or wine — and accept only cash, but it's worth at least one drink. Right down the street is The Palomino Bar which would be both mine and your favorite bar if we lived in Milwaukee." — 'Duk

What to eat

"Cheese fries in a helmet. They're cheese fries and they're served in a plastic Brewers helmet you can take home as a souvenir. Really, what else do you need to know? You can also get some delicious Wisconsin ice cream in a helmet, though it's not as big a helmet as the one the cheese fries are served in." — 'Duk

"I knew ‘Duk would say “cheese fries in a helmet” but I am going to have to go with the gourmet soft pretzel. Now, this isn’t the everyday soft pretzel you can get at every concession stand. This one is huge and they dip it in butter and put your choice of topping on it. I usually go with Parmesan cheese. A heart attack waiting to happen. Good times. A close second would be a large Miller High Life, followed by the Brat with Secret Stadium Sauce." — B.G.

"Nothing beats a brat at Miller Park. No need to say anything further about that. However, if alcohol is your 'thing,' check out the cocktail stations they have on the second level. For $6.50, you get a nice brandy, rum, whiskey, or vodka cocktail of your choosing. If you wink and mention to the server that a little extra won’t hurt anybody, there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll get an extra shot in that drink.  Slip the guy an extra buck for taking care of you." — A.W.

"One of the best snacks in the ballpark are the Cactus League Nachos, with stewed chicken or taco meat, pico de gallo, sour cream and jalapenos. These are sold at free standing kiosks throughout the park." — T.R.

"Save money on sodas and water by bringing your own. You can bring in unopened plastic bottles, and I don't think there's a limit." — T.R.

"Sadly, you can't do the same for beer from the outside as I quickly learned when I was a college senior during Miller Park's first year. At a recent game, though, I saw a man topping off his beer with a flask of whiskey, Buttermaker-style." — 'Duk 

"It is a matter of  tradition that you need to eat the type of sausage that wins the Sausage Race." — Jedd "Sledd" Schultz 

Where to sit

"Tickets are still affordable, and there really aren't any bad seats in the park.  Loge infield are a great bargain." — T.R.

"The box seats at Miller Park are cheap compared to other parks, so if you are looking to sit close to the action at a reasonable price, this is the park for you. The club level is carpeted and has some of the nicest bathrooms in the bigs! If you can get a box seat in the 400 level behind home plate, that is probably your best value." — B.G.

"There are no bad seats at Miller Park. However, the 2nd level is a great deal.  You can get tickets for $26, and feel like you are looking right at the action." — A.W.

"If you spend all of the allotted three hours tailgating, just buy the cheapest seat possible. It's not going to matter where you're sitting." — 'Duk

Misc.

"The entire spectacle of going to Miller Park is great. You have the show in the parking lots ahead of time. Food and beer flowing like there is no tomorrow. A variety of parking lot games including washers, cornhole and donkey balls. Girls looking infinitely better than they usually do because they are wearing Brewers gear. Inside, you have a crowd ready to explode for a winner after watching 25 years of brutal baseball. I’m 30 and I still enjoy the sausage races. Miller Park with the roof open and the outfield panels open is beautiful. Decent amount of leg room. Roll Out The Barrel. And the fact after the game, you can go out to your car and tailgate again!"  — B.G.

"The best part about being at Miller Park is that when you walk around you know that the Brewers are relevant again. It’s almost like the 'place to be.' You are there with 40,000 other people dressed in yellow and blue waiting to blow the roof off when Braun sends a shot into deep left.  Young women dress in skirts, wear their hair with a ponytail and a Brewer hat, with shirts that say 'JJ makes me Hardy' and 'I’m Mrs. Braun.' Before the game, there are approximately 3,000 games of bean bags being played in the parking lot. You can’t not have a good time at Miller Park.  As long as the Brewers play competitive baseball, that stadium will be filled. That’s all us fans want." — A.W.

Have an insider's tip for Miller Park that you didn't see listed here? E-mail it with your name and hometown to 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com for possible inclusion in the post.

Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review will run all summer, will feature all 30 MLB ballparks and is based on recommendations from you, the reader. We welcome reviews for any ballpark. To do so, visit this post for submission guidelines.

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