Seeing how someone else handled THEIR new baseball stadium
Cory Provus and Bob Uecker get really nice seats to ball games.
I know. I sat in them.
It's the spot from which I hosted Tuesday's edition of Wisconsin's Morning News (Wednesday's too and, if needed, Thursday a.m. as well). Chase Field is the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks who the Brewers came to the desert leading 2-0 in the best-of-five NLCS. One more Milwaukee win and we're on to the next round.
Chase sits on the fringe of downtown Phoenix. As my engineer, John Tyler, so glibly pointed out before this morning's show, it's as if Miller Park were made of Lego pieces and someone smashed them all together: seems everything we have in Milwaukee is here in Phoenix, only a little taller and on a much smaller footprint. Want a TGI Friday's? A more upscale restaurant? A roof? Lots of green seats and girders? A huge centerfield scoreboard? At two a.m. Arizona time today, I had to rub my eyes to realize I wasn't sitting on Miller Park Way.
What Chase doesn't have is much of an exterior personality.
It's ringed by parking structures instead of parking LOTS--those big flat things at Miller Park where thousands grill, party, play bean-bag and play catch with their kids before every game. Tailgating is as much of the Brewers baseball experience as sausage racing and Zing Boom Tarerell (I'm guessing on that one). It allows fans to save cash on ballpark eats. Gives you a chance to mingle with perfect strangers. Show off grilling skills. See how long you can hold your bladder before finally giving in and trying a parking lot porta-potty.
That, my friends, is Brewers baseball.
It's obvious why they don't tailgate down here--your food would cook itself in the 110 degree heat, a furnace made only more intense by being parked on black top. Like so much of Phoenix, Chase feels like a strip mall or shopping center--a place to flee from the beastly summertime conditions. As we scurry when it's 20 below zero from heated home to heated car to heated office and then back again, AZ is AC 24-7, including when it's time to play ball.
Many people will say they love Miller Park but wish it had been built downtown. I'm not hear to kick that bag of stuff around again--face it, they didn't put it on wheels and won't roll it down to Water and McKinley. If the stadium HAD gone up in the business district we no doubt would've lost tailgating as part of the local baseball experience. I can't imagine acres of valuable land being left as asphalt, but then again, I couldn't picture the former Park East land lying idle all these years, either.
I seldom tailgate but love nothing more than walking through the pre-game lot, taking in the sounds and smells of pre-game Milwaukee baseball. Your Miller Park experience starts well before you get your ticket ripped (make that scanned, now that it's the 21st century). If you're lucky, a generous new friend might even offer up a brat and brew as you get out of your ride. Or, you may do the same for a newfound stranger.
That's what I deem a home field advantage.