Milwaukee Face Off: Miller Park vs. Leonís Custard
Bear with us while explain the concept for this new series of articles: we take two seemingly unrelated Milwaukee icons, then pit them against each other in 10 categories. In each category, we'll assign them points, one through 10, then add them up and name the winner.
No, it's not scientific, but yes, it's fun. How does Miller Park, home of the Brewers, stack up against South Side refreshment giant Leon's Frozen Custard? Read on to find out ...
Miller Park, 2
Sure, you can buy the limited number of "Uecker Seats" for a buck, but a pair of decent tickets, parking, a couple of sodas, beers and hot dogs will probably set you back at least $100. It's still one of the least expensive Major League baseball experiences, but it's not exactly a cheap night out.
It doesn't get a whole lot more affordable than Leon's. Get a cone of its famous custard for less than two bucks. You'd have to try to spend $6 for lunch. As value goes, Leon's is a perfect 10.
Value to city:
Miller Park, 10
Having a state-of-the-art venue like Miller Park does lots for Milwaukee's reputation. Beyond the All Star Game in 2002, which brought tens of thousands of tourists to our city, professional sports franchises separate first- and second-tier cities. Sentimentality aside, Miller Park is exponentially more impressive than its predecessor, County Stadium.
On the same corner as Leon's is an Einstein Bagels, Cousin Subs, Noodles & Company and a Starbucks -- all big chains. Leon's is a neighborhood treasure that has survived and thrived for almost 66 years and is a part of the city's identity.
Miller Park, 9
The Brewers drew 2.8 million fans in 2007. That averages to more than 35,000 fans per game, and puts Milwaukee right in the middle of the National League pack. Considering the size of the market, that's an astounding figure. The only reason it doesn't score a perfect 10 is because several of those games were against the Cubs, and those sell outs came largely from Chicago fans.
For what it is, Leon's is a popular spot, particularly on hot summer nights when you can expect long lines. It obviously thins out in winter (but it's open, unlike the stadium). Still, you can't really compare its customer base to Miller Park.
Miller Park, 10
Everyone in Milwaukee knows what Miller Park is, and who plays there. Period.
Milwaukeeans from every generation and every part of town have visited Leon's. But unless you live nearby, it's possible to forget Leon's is there, considering many Milwaukeeans assume that Kopp's is the king of custard in this town.
Miller Park, 6
Miller Park is a sight to behold, but it's not without its flaws. Whether it's leaking or squeaking roof issues, or seats that oddly don't point toward the action on the field, or sightlines that prevent seeing both the right or left field corners from any spot in the stadium -- Miller Park isn't universally considered the finest design in all of baseball.
The mere fact that Leon's is still operating from the same structure all these years later shows that its founders had a lot of foresight when building their business. Additionally, the design is so retro and cool, it has become part of Leon's charm.
Miller Park, 5
While most stadiums don't feature retractable roofs, several do. And the retro look Miller Park was shooting for is neither original nor the first of its kind. Nearly every stadium constructed since Camden Yards in Baltimore has followed the same basic mold.
Maybe it wasn't that unique in 1942, but it certainly is now. There are just a handful of custard stands still standing that resemble Leon's, and none nearly as successful.
Miller Park, 8
Bringing in many, many millions of dollars in tax revenue, Miller Park provides thousands of jobs and boosts the local economy. It would score a 10 in this category, but it was largely taxpayer funded, costing $400 million. A hefty 77.5 percent of the price tag came from a five-county sales tax that we're still paying.
In the big picture, Leon's brings a negligible amount to the economy and employs a tiny fraction of the people that Miller Park does.
Miller Park, 4
The stadium is somewhat convenient, located off the Interstate, with tons of available parking. But it also causes "stadium traffic," gridlock heading in both directions. And because it was not built Downtown, it loses the opportunity to cash in on the convenience factor of being centrally located with other dining, drinking and entertainment venues.
Leon's is fairly centrally located, just southwest of Downtown. It's a close drive from the I-94 and right off of Oklahoma Ave.
Miller Park, 1
With 2001 as its first season, Miller Park is one of the newest stadiums in baseball. It shares no history with County Stadium, and even Bernie's Chalet was replaced with a bland "condo" design.
The custard stand has been family owned and operated since 1942. Gille's is slightly older; it opened in 1938. But 66 years of history is nothing to shake a stick at. A perfect 10.
Quality of product:
Miller Park, 5
You can't blame Miller Park, but in its seven seasons, the Brewers have produced just one winning season and one break-even season. The rest have been losing efforts. Sure, the Brewers have played better at home than on the road, but most teams do, too. The production value is good, too, but it could be louder and a little more innovative at times.
Milwaukeeans regularly claim that Leon's has the best frozen custard in town. Some say Kopp's is better, but that's highly subjective. Certainly no one says Leon's isn't great, but since it isn't unanimous, Leon's earns a nine.
Miller Park, 60
Winner: Leon's Frozen Custard
Next up: Lake Michigan vs. The Milwaukee Art Museum
If you drive a long way to Leon's be sure to check out Mazos too: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=74332 Get ready for a lot of calories!
murphy | Dec. 11, 2007 at 8:06 a.m. (report)
Sorry, I don't get it.
I LIVED ON THE SOUTH SIDE FOR 30 YEARS, BUT MOVED TO THE WAUKESHA AREA, BUT EVEY TIME I PAST LEON'S BRINGS ME BACK 40 OR SO YEARS. I FIRST STOPPED AT LEON'S IN 1950'S FOR AN CUSTARD CONE, OR ICE CREAM CAN'T REMEMBER WHICH. ONE THING IS FOR SURE, IT'S STILL LEON'S. AND YES I WAS AT A FEW BASEBALL GAMES , AND WATCH THE OLD BRAVES PLAY AND WIN..OH, HAPPY DAYS
As an aside, I'd already like to preclude your next battle by declaring di Suveros' Starburst sculpture the hands down winner over the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Corporation. p.s. if you people don't back me on this, I will move out of town!
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