There is No Offseason for…Brewers Enterprises
When most people think of Miller Park, they automatically conjure up thoughts of the fun they’ve had on game day. Jason Hartlund and his staff are trying to change that.
Jason is the Vice President of Brewers Enterprises, a relatively new division of the Milwaukee Brewers (2006) that oversees all non-baseball events and revenue for Miller Park.
We are fortunate to have a venue that provides a myriad of entertainment options–rain or shine–suitable for anything from 40,000 persons down to small groups and in his role, Jason oversees the operations and develops sales and marketing strategies to attract a broad mix of events in and around Miller Park, from conventions and concerts to corporate retreats, parties and so much more.
Jason climbed on board to steer the Brewers Enterprises ship in May of 2008 after beginning his Brewers career in the Corporate Marketing Department. Prior to joining the Brewers, he had served three seasons as Manager of Corporate Sales for the Green Bay Packers.
With just five people, the Brewers Enterprises staff may be on the small side, but as you’ll see, they accomplish a great deal, working year-round to enhance your ballpark experience.
There’s Sarah Chmiel, Manager of Brewers Enterprises. Her job is to think of creative uses for the ballpark.
“Sarah’s role has been developing many of the non-baseball events that have taken place here, such as the Field of Sweet Dreams, Baseball Boot Camp, the Brewers Road Crew, Miller Park Movies and the Border Battle, the minor league game that we hosted here last year, ” Jason explained. We’ll talk more about those events later.
Then there’s Tai Chamness, Manager of Special Events. She’s who you go to if you want to book your wedding, party or special event at Miller Park.
“We have really focused on becoming more customer-service oriented with function spaces. That’s Tai’s specialty,” Jason said.
“We’ve been successful with holiday parties, tours, Helfaer Field, meeting room rentals and parking lot events this year,” Jason said. “But weddings have really taken off.”
As someone who had her own wedding reception at Miller Park and took her wedding photos on the field and in the Visitor’s Clubhouse back in 2007, I can certainly understand the allure. Baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike can appreciate the beautiful backdrop of the field looking out from the Metavante Club.
The Brewers Enterprises staff will help you customize your Big Day every step of the way; they’ve seen it all–from a total baseball wedding complete with uniforms and ballpark fare to the most elegant affairs where the location takes a backseat to everything else. You can have your ceremony at the park, or your reception, or both.
Throw in Cory Congemi, Coordinator of Helfaer Field and Miller Park Tours and Katie Wettstein, Special Events Coordinator, whose primary focus is on the Brewers Conference Center, and you have one busy crew.
That’s why I found it amazing that Sarah and Jason were able to find enough time to sit down with me for this interview.
Let’s take a look at what Brewers Enterprises is doing in the offseason and what’s on tap for 2010.
Right now, Sarah is in full travel agent mode, working on the Brewers Road Crew trip to Spring Training in Phoenix, March 10-14 (referenced in a previous post, found here).
“This is something we have never done before. In speaking with the Ticket Department, we know that they get numerous calls asking about Spring Training trips each year. This is something fans have been waiting for and we hope it’s successful,” Sarah said.
“We are going to take a group of people down to Arizona and we’re going to provide them with airfare, hotel accommodations and transportation while they’re there. They’ll get to see three Spring Training games,” Sarah explained. She began to get animated as she started to list the additional perks of joining the Brewers Road Crew for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
“They will have the chance to meet some of the higher-ups from the Front Office. We’ll have a tailgate party that the current players will come to at Maryvale Baseball Park. Some former players will hang out with them….oh and our broadcasters, Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson, will be there, too,” she went on.
I found out that participants will also have a chance to win behind-the-scenes experiences while they’re there, like throwing out the First Pitch, running in the Sausage Race or sitting in with Bill and Brian during webcasts of the Spring Training games. Plus, they’ll get gifts like a t-shirt, a ball for autographs and a player-issued tech fleece. Finally, every guest will receive a ticket to see the team when they come back to Milwaukee for Opening Day at Miller Park on April 5 vs. the Colorado Rockies.
By the time she’s finished her spiel, I’m practically reaching for my credit card. With more benefits than even I knew about and at $3695 for a couple, minus all of the stress of planning a trip for myself, it also sounds like more than a great deal.
“We’d like to use this Road Crew concept to take fans on the road during the season even, for bigger trips with the team. The first of many, we hope,” Sarah said.
Along with the Road Crew event, Brewers Enterprises is busy making plans for all of the other special non-game day events here at Miller Park.
Last year, they introduced several new events to Brewers fans, like the Border Battle, Brewers Baseball Boot Camp, Miller Park Movies and the Field of Sweet Dreams.
First, the Border Battle. Last April, Miller Park hosted a Midwest League matchup between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Peoria Chiefs.
The Timber Rattlers became the Brewers’ Class A Midwest League affiliate at the beginning of last season and through our partnership with them, the Border Battle served as a great opportunity for fans to see some of the organization’s younger prospects play in a Major League environment. The Chiefs are the Chicago Cubs’ affiliate, so it also gave us the chance to showcase the players who will play key roles in the future of the Cubs-Brewers rivalry.
Bernie Brewer and Timber Rattlers mascot, Fang, before the Border Battle in April 2009.
“We had over 17,000 fans attend,” Jason said. “We kept it extremely affordable. The focus was on making it easy for fans to come out and enjoy the ballpark. All seats were $10 and they were sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you got your tickets early, you could be sitting in the best seats in the house, behind home plate or the dugouts, for just $10.”
Brewers Enterprises plans on hosting a similar event this year; they’re just finalizing details, so be sure and stay tuned!
Brewers Enterprises also hopes to bring back Brewers Baseball Boot Camp.
Baseball Boot Camp is an intense one-day affair where fans get to experience a day in the life of an actual ballplayer.
“We have about 50 people who attend and we divide into four teams. The coaches are alumni players. Last year, they were Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas and Paul Wagner. The participants come in early in the morning and have access to the Visiting Clubhouse; they use the lockers and it’s staffed the same way it would be for the pros. Then, the participants get a half-day of coaching and review of fundamentals. In the afternoon, they play games until one of the teams is crowned Champion,” Sarah explained.
“The Championship team is then brought back for a pre-game ceremony that includes a trophy presentation.”
All of the participants also receive an authentic, personalized jersey. In its inaugural year, the event was promoted around Father’s Day as a gift idea and the actual event took place in July.
Sarah said they have already gotten calls from the 2009 participants, wanting to sign up for 2010.
Another successful inaugural event last year was the Field of Sweet Dreams. Last September, fans of all ages had the chance to take part in a giant sleepover on the field at Miller Park.
“It went really well,” Sarah said. “It was a nice, affordable option for families.”
With space for 300 people and a portion of the proceeds benefitting Brewers Charities, Inc., the event sold out in less than a week.
Upon entering the ballpark, participants received a special gift. They then headed down to the field, where they were able to pitch their tents and enjoy a meal.
For entertainment, the Associated Bank Kids Zone was open, folks could take tours of the park, there were raffle prizes given out and fans could send in scoreboard messages that rotated all night.
The attendees watched the Brewers road game on the videoboard, followed by a movie. Before lights out, fans were treated to a bedtime story, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, read by Dave Bush and Corey Hart via the scoreboard.
In the morning, everyone was awakened by the sound of the boom cannons (fireworks) and Uecker’s home run call piped through the sound system. All attendees also got a keepsake of a personal, professional photo taken at home plate.
“I personally had a blast. It was a lot of fun,” Sarah recounted. “That was my favorite event from last year.”
Along with these events, Brewers Enterprises also hosted Miller Park Movies in 2009, bringing the nostalgia of the classic American drive-in movie theater to the parking lots of Miller Park.
Another memorable Brewers Enterprises production took place in August of 2008 for the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary Celebration, when H.O.G. members were treated to a special event that took place on the Miller Park grounds featuring concerts by artists like Sugarland and Kid Rock.
“These kind of events really show people that you can use the footprint of Miller Park in different ways,” Jason said.
In addition to planning and executing all of these events, Brewers Enterprises has also been retained by IMG to sell advertising in the game day program for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship this year. Rounds 1 and 2 will be at the Bradley Center.
“It’s an example of how we have diversified and come up with different sources of revenue,” Jason noted.
Diversified indeed. From ballpark tours and meetings to Little League games and weddings; from concerts and sleepovers to boot camps and road trips, Brewers Enterprises does it all, proving that Miller Park is about more than just baseball.
It also proves, once again, that there is no offseason.
For more information on any of the events mentioned in this article, or to book your event at Miller Park in 2010, call Brewers Enterprises at (414) 902-4452.
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