Planning a large or recurring corporate event can make venue selection a challenge. Often, organizers are looking for a unique and unusual locale to attract and please guests.
Miller Park is well known as the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, but the ballpark is also used to host a range of social and corporate events. Miller Park hosts more than 400 social and corporate events per year. The costs range from $300 for a conference room rental to six figures for the entire stadium.
The Brewers have recently stepped up efforts to attract events at the stadium, including launching a website, www.millerpark.com, devoted to event planning, said Jason Hartlund, vice president of Brewers Enterprises.
Brewers Enterprises was formed five years ago with Hartlund in the lead. His team, which recently expanded to five people, works to bring in non-baseball revenue. That includes promotions like a trip down Bernie Brewer’s slide or booking fan trips to spring training in Arizona.
If clients make a reasonable request for an event at Miller Park, the Brewers Enterprises team tries to make it happen, said Rick Schlesinger, chief operations officer for the Brewers.
The Brewers routinely make offseason improvements to the stadium, which include event space upgrades to keep improving the event experience at Miller Park.
“Every year we’ll do things to the ballpark,” Schlesinger said. “Most years there will be some funds focused on (Hartlund’s) area. There’s been an absolute return on his expenditure.”
Brewers Enterprises has also seen an uptick in interest for events at the ballpark following the Brewers NL Central Championship in the 2011 season.
“A winning team on the field helps every part of the organization and my division is no different,” Hartlund said.
The excitement of having an event at a Major League Baseball stadium can help groups increase attendance for their events, Schlesinger said.
“If you have a meeting here, you’re going to get people to come,” he said.
Available venues for events at Miller Park include the NYCE Stadium Club, a large restaurant/banquet space overlooking the left field corner, the Gehl Club, an indoor/outdoor lounge over left field, the Home Plate Lounge on the club level, the PNC Club Level concourses, the visitors team clubhouse, party suites for watching the game, the Brewers Conference Center, tailgate spaces and parking lots.
In addition, the actual playing field can be rented out for special events, though it requires a lot of preparation to make sure the field remains pristine for ballgames.
“On the field, we don’t do it often because quite frankly it’s a pretty high price tag,” Hartlund said.
But for a huge anniversary celebration and its bi-annual meeting this in November, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce (MMAC) rented out the field and used the stadium’s new scoreboard to host the 1,600-person event.
“We knew we needed a large venue, and that pretty much narrows the field in Milwaukee to a select few,” said Julie Granger, vice president of communications for the MMAC. “It was our 150th anniversary, so we really wanted the venue to support the fact that this was a very milestone year for the organization and for the community.”
Being on the field was a draw that attracted more attendees than usual for the event, she said.
“We always really wanted to do it on the field,” Granger said. “One of the ways we’ve positioned membership in our organization is that they are not observers or audience members, they are the players on the field.”
Mortenson Construction in Brookfield tries to host its annual holiday party in January at a site where it completed a job in the last year, said Karen Tramm, executive assistant and event planner. This year, it was Miller Park, where the company installed a new scoreboard.
The company’s party was held in the NYCE Stadium Club for about 200 people. There were passed appetizers and food stations provided by Brewers Enterprises catering.
“Your guests get a kick out of (an event at Miller Park) because they feel like they’re part of something special,” Tramm said. “Even though it was the middle of winter, we still thought it was cool that we had been there and had our piece of the pie.”