Friday, July 29, 2011

For Love of a Ballpark

The Milwaukee Brewers are sponsoring a contest asking fans to let the team know what they love about Miller Park. The winner gets season tickets for next season. It's a nice way to celebrate the stadium's 10th anniversary.

I don't live in Milwaukee anymore and haven't for the better part of more than three decades, but I make it to one or two Brewers' home games a year. There's a lot to love about the new ballpark. The wide concourses and seats closer to the field are a big improvement over County Stadium. Without a doubt, the thing I love most is the retractable roof.  Nobody likes a rainout, but it's even worse if you have only one day to see a game. I shake my head at the two new stadiums in New York that neglected to this feature.

Still, the contest started me thinking about what inspires love for a ballpark. For me it's not the amenities or the design. It's the memories of what happens there.

The picture I have in my mind of sitting in the upper deck at County Stadium with my Dad watching the early, bad Brewers teams are priceless. So, too, of seeing Robin Yount mature from the reed-thin rookie into the franchise's greatest player. And nothing tops the summer of '78 when the Brewers made the leap from perennial doormat to contender. (Although '82 is obviously the Crew's best year, I had to follow the thrills from far away in South Carolina.)

I am sure for a new generation of fans Miller Park is making indelible memories that pack the same emotional wallop as County Stadium does for me.

I didn't shed a tear when County Stadium was replaced. I knew it was time. But I'll always love the old stadium and the memories it left with me.

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