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Korbel Brandy Old Fashioneds were a delicious part of Miller Park's comprehensive concessions upgrade.

Miller Park wins Ballpark Digest award for Best New Concessions Experience

Before the season, the Milwaukee Brewers underwent a complete transformation of the food and beverage hospitality experience at Miller Park, a $20 million concessions upgrade that was the largest club project – in scope and financial investment – since the stadium opened in 2001. Notably, they added cheese curds and more Wisconsin beer.

The food and beverage operations overhaul was commended by fans throughout the year, and on Wednesday it was conferred by the experts. Miller Park received the 2017 Best New Concessions Experience award by Ballpark Digest, which has covered ballpark-related baseball news for 15 years. The award recognized the Brewers and Delaware North Sportservice for Miller Park's new local-centric concessions offerings and the extensive renovation of its stands and concourses.

"We are honored to receive this award for our new food and beverage experience at Miller Park," Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger said in a statement. "We view the Miller Park experience as much more than a baseball game, and fan satisfaction is our top priority. With Delaware North and many other partners' support, this project was a very high priority for stakeholders. It proved to be the largest private financial investment since Miller Park opened, and we couldn't be happier with the results."

When the Brewers announced the new food and beverage program, they said it was inspired by the organizational mantra to "cherish our fans," with Schlesinger adding that it would "reflect the traditions of Wisconsin."

The club certainly accomplished that, increasing partnerships with local vendors and installing new specialty stands, drawing on Milwaukee's food traditions and growing restaurant scene to expand beyond typical ballpark fare. Area favorites such as AJ Bombers Burgers, Smoke Shack Barbeque, Zaffiro's Pizza, as well as a new line of Klement's All Natural Sausages and built-to-order street tacos, were added throughout Miller Park, while Dairy State delicacies like cheese curds and frozen custard were introduced.

You could even get a Korbel Brandy Old Fashioned (sweet, of course). And the popular Local Brews bar on the right-field side of the Loge Level, with its 30 taps serving craft beers from across Wisconsin, was a great spot for something other than Miller Lite.

"We took a lot of guest feedback and listened to what the fans wanted. In the end, those fans told us they wanted more local foods and restaurant-quality food," said Executive Chef Seth VanderLaan, who hinted that more new local culinary offerings are in store for 2018.

The comprehensive rebuild of the stadium's food and beverage infrastructure encompassed an architectural redesign throughout Miller Park, including 11 new concession stands in the remodeled and renamed First Base Ward and Third Base Ward on the Field Level, as well as two new Field Level full-service bars serving a variety of MillerCoors products and providing a gathering place with views of the field. The construction and rebranding of new stands, which span all of the ballpark's seating levels, "leverage the rich architectural history of Milwaukee," according to the team.

Ballpark Digest did not overlook the design changes, calling them a "simplified approach to Miller Park concessions," with many of the portable stands removed and a layout that better connected to the field.

"The food experience at Miller Park tended to be pretty generic in the past, and the concourse concessions layout made for some troublesome bottlenecks," said Ballpark Digest Publisher Kevin Reichard. "The renovated Miller Park concessions not only added new food and beverage items with a Wisconsin focus, they also dramatically improved the traffic flow throughout the ballpark.

"Yeah, we're suckers for an AJ Bombers burger or a well-prepared Old Fashioned. But the changes at Miller Park transcended the introduction of a new food item or two, as every team does that in the offseason. They elevated the fan experience in several ways, and that effort merits recognition."

Kudos, Brewers. Now, hopefully, Miller Park will be known as much as a place to eat and drink inside the stadium as it is to tailgate outside. Read the full Ballpark Digest article here.


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