New group area tickets on sale Saturday

New 'right' way exists to enjoy Miller Park

MILWAUKEE -- Geoff Jenkins will have some company in right field this season.

The Brewers are set to begin selling ticket packages Saturday for a new group picnic area that sits on what was the right-field warning track at Miller Park. A new right-field fence, made of thin metal links to provide an unobstructed view, has been constructed eight feet closer to home plate and frames the new area.

Calling it "the single-largest project that the team has undertaken since the ballpark opened," Brewers vice president of communications Tyler Barnes is expecting high demand for the new space.

"We already have been getting calls on this, just by word of mouth," he said.

The area is tucked into the right-field corner at Miller Park, between the foul pole and the power alley. It can accommodate up to 75 fans for each game and a private bar is included with food and drink provided at an all-inclusive price, from $39 to $65 per person, depending on the date.

Bar stools and tables positioned directly behind the fence offer a view from over the right fielder's shoulder, and fans will also be able to peer through a window into the visitor's bullpen. The manual American League scoreboard that used to adorn the right-field wall has been removed.

A number of Major League parks have similar party areas, including U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Chase Field in Arizona.

The food menu includes bratwurst, hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled barbeque chicken, corn on the cob and baked beans. All fans in the area will be furnished with a replica Brewers batting helmet to prepare for home runs, especially those hit by Jenkins & Co. during batting practice.

Construction on the project, which is being funded fully by the Brewers, began in October after the club's baseball operations department studied the effect of moving in the fence.

"The net effect is one to two home runs per season," Barnes said. "That's about one percent if you do the math."

The Brewers are reportedly in discussions on corporate naming rights to the new picnic area. Other all-inclusive packages are available for the Dew Deck high above right field, party suites inside the ballpark and outdoor tailgate pavilions. The Brewers also offer discounted tickets to groups not interested in food and drink plans.

According to Brewers manager of group sales Chris Barlow, 20 percent of total tickets sold are snatched up by groups. The Brewers rank in the top eight in MLB in group sales.

"I think having a large target area and a good marketing strategy has been important in drawing fans from around Wisconsin and northern Illinois," Barnes said. "The one great attribute is the roof, because if a group is coming from La Crosse, they want to know that we will play ball. [The roof] clears away any doubt."

Miller Park's 12,000-ton, seven-panel roof can be closed in cases of bad weather.

Fans can request reservations for the right field picnic area beginning at 9 a.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 4 by calling the Brewers at (414) 902-4100. Group outings will have the first priority in reserving dates, and each group leader may only reserve up to two dates for the season.

"The demand is already strong," Barlow said. "If something can sell itself before it's even been announced, I think that's a sign it's going to be very popular."

Other group sales opportunities, including the popular Dew Deck, will also become available Saturday. All groups receive recognition on the Miller Park scoreboard, a guaranteed block of seats, personal assistance from the Brewers Group Sales staff and two complimentary tickets to a future game for the group leader.

Put off until 2007 are plans to renovate a number of club-level suites into a large group party area. That project had been targeted for this season, but planning delays forced the Brewers to wait another season.

"I don't want to do anything halfway," owner Mark Attanasio said. "It's part of the whole fan experience and I don't want a whole year where fans come to the ballpark and watch as it's under construction. We're going to do it first-class and correctly."

When completed, the group suite could span as many as three current sections of the club level.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.