"That's usually one of the biggest crowds of the year, and the last thing we want is for people to have tickets to not be able to park in our lots," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' executive vice president of business operations. "On Opening Day, if you don't buy in advance, there's no guarantee. In fact, it's pretty much a sure thing that we will run out of spots."
The Brewers have pondered limiting access to parking lots on Opening Day to fans with game tickets. That's easier said than done, Schlesinger said.
"If that could be done without any problems, that would be ideal," Schlesinger said. "The challenge is that we find some people come to meet groups, and the other group has the tickets. What do you do about the guy who says, 'My buddy has the tickets?' And, if you have to show your ticket to a parking attendant and then do a transaction to buy a parking pass, that slows down the lines.
"We're still struggling with that concept and I don't know if I have come up with any brilliant solution yet. A lot of people come to the lots who don't have game tickets. The best way we can do it is to encourage people with tickets to buy parking passes in advance. We're not going to sell more passes than we have spots."
For weekend games, prices are up $2-$3 for game-day purchases. General parking will cost $10 and preferred $18.
For all other dates, including Monday-Thursday games, the two exhibitions against the Royals in late March and the "Spring Madness" dates from May 9-12, general parking remains $8, both for advance- and day-of-game purchase. Preferred parking is $12 in advance and $15 on game day.
For all dates but Opening Day, the price of bus parking remains the same: $25 in advance and $40 on game day. Game day bus parking on Opening Day will cost $50.
Fans can bundle parking passes with their tickets when buying online at Brewers.com.
Passes are also available by calling the ticket office at (414) 902-HITS.
Single-game tickets will go on sale Feb. 23, including a very limited allotment of Opening Day tickets. Most will be single-seat, obstructed-view or standing-room-only tickets.
Many bar and restaurant owners who for years have led groups to Opening Day are finding themselves either shut out this year or limited in the number of tickets they are able to acquire.
The Brewers are selling more season-ticket packages that come bundled with Opening Day seats, Schlesinger said.
"There are fewer tickets available for Opening Day and we have had to come up with a process by which we allocate those sparse group tickets to various groups," Schlesinger said. "Very few groups are getting the same amount of tickets they got in the past, and some groups are not getting any tickets. What we look at is seniority, total ticket purchases by the group -- not just for Opening Day. We have to come up with some parameters, and the result is that some groups are seeing their tickets reduced.
"It's frustrating, and I understand their frustration. But the reality is that the more popular a team, the availability of tickets goes down. Candidly, while I respect their frustration, I believe the best thing for everybody is the Brewers selling more tickets."
Some groups shut out for the home opener are instead targeting one of the other two games of the Giants series. Group sales are up about 25 percent over this point last year, and sales are particularly strong for Sunday, April 6, when the Brewers will distribute Prince Fielder bobbleheads.
"I have talked to some people and I think they understand it," Schlesinger said. "There is an education process, not just for groups, but for individuals. The days coming to the box office or calling the office the day before a game and getting a bunch of group tickets are over. Demand is high and season-ticket holders are more numerous. Groups are becoming more educated about getting into purchasing mode earlier."
The Brewers this week inked right-hander Chris Spurling to a Minor League contract without an invitation to big league camp. Instead, Spurling will report to the team's Minor League camp and will probably start the year at Triple-A Nashville.
Spurling made 49 relief appearances for the Brewers last season, going 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA. He's pitched parts of four seasons in the Majors for Milwaukee and Detroit, and will turn 31 in June.