The Milwaukee Brewers
are officially back to full fan capacity
Friday afternoon's game against the Colorado Rockies is considered "Re-Opening Day" at American Family Field, which has been restricted to 50% capacity since mid-May and 25% prior to that.
The Brewers are expecting attendance to surpass 30,000 fans at each of the weekend series' three games, with tickets still available. The stadium's total seating capacity is 41,900.
It's the first time the ballpark has reached full operations since the end of the 2019 season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all games during the 2020 season were played without fans, which was a huge blow to the Brewers, a small market club that's always relied heavily on live gate sales.
"When you have games with no fans and admission revenue is your biggest source of revenue you're going to have challenges, but like any other business we went through a very difficult 2020 season. 2021 is a lot better and getting to full capacity obviously makes a big difference," said Rick Schlesinger, president of business operations, in an interview with BizTimes Milwaukee.
Schlesinger said he's optimistic about the club's current financial position, and he's even more optimistic about the return to pre-pandemic activity at businesses throughout the region and state.
In addition to the revenue boost, full operations means more jobs. The Brewers in recent months have hired back nearly 3,000 part-time employees, including security personnel, concession crews, ticket takers, parking attendants and cleaning staff.
According to a letter the Brewers wrote to Governor Tony Evers and Mayor Tom Barrett about American Family Field's economic impact, about 1,300 of those workers are directly employed by Brewers, both seasonally and permanently. Another 1,200 are contracted by food and beverage operator Delaware North. Others are employed by the Brewers Community Foundation.
Delaware North has hosted several hiring events since mid-May in an effort to fill positions throughout the stadium and open positions at Restaurant To Be Named Later. Schlesinger said the club is in "really good shape" staffing-wise but could always use more help, especially in concessions.
As for admissions, Schlesinger expects game crowds to grow over the course of the summer as more people feel comfortable gathering in large groups.
"I think what happens now is there is a lot of things for people to do," he said. "They were deprived of a lot of activities and entertainment opportunities over the course of the past 15 months, so now that we're all open, everybody is competing for people's time ... I'm not worried about people coming to an outdoor destination like American Family Field, but I recognize that different people have different levels of comfortability."
As of June 1, fans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not been required to wear masks at Brewers games at American Family Field.
Across town, the Milwaukee Bucks have been able to draw sell-out crowds at Fiserv Forum, which returned to its full 16,500-person capacity earlier this month. More than 15,000 additional fans have gathered on the public plaza
outside the arena to watch the team advance in the NBA playoffs. The Bucks will host the Atlanta Hawks for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday evening, after the Brewers' game.
As part of the Brewers' "Re-opening Day" festivities, $1 hot dogs will be available for fans all day, courtesy of American Family Insurance, and the first 10,000 fans will receive a free 1980s-style Brewers t-shirt, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual. In addition, the Johnsonville Famous Racing Sausages will return to their normal racecourse, starting down the left field line and ending as they pass the Brewers dugout.
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