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Bonus baseball for fans at Miller Park

Bonus baseball for fans at Miller Park

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PHILADELPHIA -- Assuming they can beat Cubs fans to the ticket counter, Brewers backers will have an opportunity to see bonus baseball this week. The most difficult part might be picking a team to cheer for.

Major League Baseball decided Saturday night that the Houston Astros will "host" the Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee's Miller Park on Sunday at 7:05 p.m. CT and Monday at 1:05 p.m. The strange scheduling came as a result of Hurricane Ike, which plowed through downtown Houston this weekend and forced officials to postpone games there.

The third game of the series will be played in Houston on Sept. 29, if necessary.

Unlike last season's relocated Angels-Indians series at Miller Park, tickets for Cubs-Astros will be priced at the Brewers' "marquee game" rates, which range from $25 to $60. Because of the difficulty staffing games on short notice, seating initially will be sold in the Field and Loge Levels only.

Tickets went on sale at 9 p.m. CT on Saturday at Brewers.com, and the Brewers "strongly encouraged" fans to avoid potentially long lines by purchasing seats in advance and selecting the "print at home" option. Tickets may also be purchased at the Miller Park box office beginning Sunday at 9 a.m. CT, but phone orders will not be available.

According to a source familiar with the intense negotiations between Major League Baseball and the teams involved, the Astros will receive the ticket revenue from the games at Miller Park.

Gates to parking -- which will cost $10 for general and $18 for preferred per vehicle -- will open three hours before first pitch each day, while the ballpark will open to fans 90 minutes prior. No parking passes will be sold in advance.

"The reality is that this is not something we sought," Brewers executive vice president of business operations Rick Schlesinger said. "It is not necessarily something we wanted. But it is also the reality that baseball was out of options. When they told us that the games would be held in Milwaukee, it was our obligation to make it happen."

One can't blame Schlesinger and other Brewers officials for being sensitive about hosting games that seem to favor the Cubs and could have an impact on Miller Park's full-time tenants. The Brewers' loss in Philadelphia on Saturday left them six games behind Chicago in the National League Central and 2 1/2 games in front of the Astros in the NL Wild Card standings. The Phillies are also a factor, two games behind the Brewers and one-half game ahead of the Astros.

How do the Brewers feel about Cubs fans once again invading Miller Park?

"We didn't have any input; that's something Major League Baseball decided to do," said Brewers pitcher Dave Bush, the team's union representative. "The main thing is getting those games in. We have enough stuff that we need to focus on here, so I don't think anybody cares."

The decision to move the series to Milwaukee was finalized late Saturday, after Hurricane Ike, considered a Category 2 but only one mile an hour short of qualifying for a Category 3, slammed into Houston in the early hours of Saturday morning.

On Friday, Miller Park employees were informed to be on standby for possible games on Sunday and Monday. Around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Astros coaches and players were informed to prepare to fly to Milwaukee early Sunday morning to play at least one game there at an undetermined time.

The Brewers gained experience with last-minute logistics in April 2007, when the Angels-Indians series was moved to Milwaukee because of snowstorms in Cleveland.

Nearly 53,000 fans attended that three-game series, paying $10 per ticket.

"I would doubt the Brewers are going out of their way to make it happen," Bush said of this time around. "But I think [Miller Park] is the safest place and it was available. It's been used in the past for some of those situations. It's probably not what they had in mind when they built it."

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

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