Miller Park concessions renovation underway

$18-million project to be completed by Opening Day 2017

Miller Park concessions renovation underway

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers and concessionaire Delaware North are investing more than $18 million into a renovation and expansion of the food and beverage infrastructure of Miller Park, the largest improvement project in terms of scope and cost at the stadium since it opened in 2001.

On Wednesday, officials ceremonially broke ground on the project, which will be completed in time for Opening Day. It includes a renovation of existing concession stands on all four levels of the stadium and the construction of 11 more, some in what the club is calling first- and third-base "wards" on the field level concourse, and a new "local brews" bar on the loge level.

The result will be a 33 percent increase in points of sale, said Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger, which should ease wait times during high-attendance games.

He said concession prices won't be set until January.

"I think I would characterize the existing footprint as functional, but not necessarily modern, not necessarily appealing to all of the fans, and certainly in need of a major overhaul," Schlesinger said. "What worked in 2001 when the concession footprint was created, it doesn't work as optimally in 2017. If you look around other venues in sports, the upgrades people are making to the food and beverage component is significant. It's overdue, frankly."

Zaffiro's Pizza is coming to Miller Park for 2017, and the Brewers are in discussions with other local restaurateurs, according to Schlesinger. The new bars included in the project will offer Wisconsin brews in addition to MillerCoors' own craft beer offerings, he said.

The Brewers enlisted the food and beverage consultancy Howard & Sergi and local restaurant operator Hospitality Democracy in planning the project. Uihlein-Wilson Architects designed it and Brookfield, Wisc.-based Hunzinger Construction is already at work building it.

The Brewers say the project is being 100 percent funded by club ownership and Delaware North, which is contributing about $4 million of the $18-19 million total.

"We're going to see a lot more efficiency in our operations, because critical to this is a lot of the back of the house equipment that the fans won't see," Schlesinger said. "The fans are going to see incredible improvement in terms of lines and time."

Asked whether the project will increase prices, Schlesinger said, "We're very sensitive about prices. From our perspective, increasing the volume of things sold helps keep prices stable. Some things are going to stay stable, some things are going to be adjusted. The new food offerings, we're still figuring out what the pricing will be.

"But I will commit that we're going to keep things affordable. We spend a lot of time on pricing. We are very sensitive that small, incremental increases do affect fans, and do affect volume. We are competing with the tailgating experience and we have a very liberal carry-in policy, so we have a lot of reasons to make sure our pricing is affordable. We don't want to price ourselves out of purchasing."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.