American Family Insurance ‘commits’ to Milwaukee with ballpark naming rights sponsorship

15-year deal begins in 2021, future name yet to be determined

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm

Salzwedel and Schlesinger

Madison-based American Family Insurance chairman and chief executive officer Jack Salzwedel during a press conference Tuesday thanked the Milwaukee Brewers for approaching the company last summer to discuss the possibility of being the new naming rights sponsor for Miller Park.

Those talks, which eventually resulted in a 15-year deal that was announced Tuesday, came as MillerCoors’ 20-year naming rights sponsorship approaches expiration.

The agreement between American Family and the Brewers includes naming rights to the stadium, beginning in 2021 through 2036. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The ballpark’s future name has yet to be determined.

Miller Brewing purchased the stadium’s naming rights for $40 million in 1996. MillerCoors products will continue to be served throughout the stadium even after its name is removed from the building at the end of the 2020 season.

“We appreciate the historical commitment of MillerCoors and Miller Brewing Company to Milwaukee our city and to our team, and while the naming rights will pass in 2021, we know our relationship with MillerCoors is strong,” said Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger. “We look forward to the next two years with MillerCoors and we look forward to strengthening our relationship for years to come.”

Salzwedel said American Family’s relationship with the Brewers goes back to 1995 when it launched “American Family Night” at Milwaukee County Stadium. The company also started a marketing partnership with the team in 2001.

“Sports marketing is a very effective way for us to brand our product and this is just one additional arrow in our quiver,” Salzwedel said.

A naming sponsorship will undoubtedly bolster the company’s brand recognition from both an employment and product standpoint, he said, but the move is part of a broader effort to expand its presence throughout the Milwaukee area.

The company plans to have “a fairly large” office building in downtown Milwaukee within the next two to three years. It will house a multi-purpose office for “high-tech” work such as data analytics and business innovation, employee recruitment and development, and community issues and investment.

“We think with what’s going on with Foxconn and the universities, colleges and research centers that are in Milwaukee, that it’s the right market for us to recruit,” Salzwedel said. “And it’s different from Madison. Madison does not have as much racial and ethnic diversity, but Milwaukee does, so it’s an effort for us to expand racial and ethnic diversity, diversity and inclusion efforts, tech talent, and we understand that in order to do that, we need to make a commitment to the city.”

He said the new office will spark the creation of new jobs and could potentially relocate employees.

American Family’s nearest Milwaukee-area office is currently located in Pewaukee.

Its partnership with the Brewers follows an agreement made with Summerfest in 2016 that included the renaming of the Henry Maier Festival Park main stage from Marcus Amphitheater to the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, which is now being rebuilt.

Salzwedel said the company’s naming sponsorship at Summerfest and for the Brewers ballpark will be complementary.

“The customer base that goes (to Summerfest) is different from the customer base you have at Miller Park right now, so we see them as not overlapping in a huge way.”

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.