Welcome to the first installment of a new blog series, Accessible Gameday. In this series, I’ll share my experiences with wheelchair accessibility at ballparks and sports stadiums around the country. I’m a huge fan of major league baseball and college football, so expect a lot of those sports/teams/stadiums.
The Milwaukee Brewers baseball club has called Miller Park home since 2001. The ballpark was one of the largest (and most expensive) construction projects in Wisconsin history, and sports a seating capacity of 41,900. The record attendance of 46,218 was set on September 6, 2003 in a game against the Chicago Cubs.
I attended the Brewers’ August 30, 2016 game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Because I was a guest of the club and VISIT Milwaukee, I did not have to go through the process of purchasing a ticket. Thankfully, the MLB team websites are relatively uniform in design, and purchasing ADA tickets is simple. Look for the link on the ticket selection page that says “Click here for real-time ADA/Handicap Seating” and proceed from there.
ADA Seating at Miller Park
I was set up with a wheelchair accessible seat in section 118, which is directly behind home plate. Had I purchased the ticket, it would have cost around $60. Even though the ADA seats/wheelchair spaces are in the last row of the section, the view was still really great:
Because the ADA row was perched up overtop the rows below, my view was never impacted – even by those annoying fans who stand up all the time. In this way, I believe the accessible seats at Miller Park were better than at other ballparks I have visited. There is nothing more frustrating than missing a big moment in the game because the people in front of you are standing. That won’t happen at a Brewers game!
I took a tour around the stadium to see what the ADA seats looked like in other sections, and I was similarly impressed:
I found ADA seating located at all levels of the ballpark, meaning that seats are available to fit any gameday budget. ADA sections feature foldable chairs, which can be moved and arranged to suit the needs of your group. Using a wheelchair? The ushers will move the chair out of the way.
Food, Beverages & Fan Gear
Hungry? Thirsty? Need a baseball cap? The Brewers have got you covered. There are tons of food options – from burgers to nachos, beer and brats. I had a delicious bratwurst, grilled chicken sandwich, Blue Moon beer and a Pepsi to top it all off.
Food and drink vendors also make their way through the stands – if you see something you like, flag them down. Don’t forget to include a small tip.
The stadium is also home to a team store, where you can grab all sorts of apparel and other Brewers memorabilia.
There is more to accessibility than just a place to park your wheelchair. Miller Park did not disappoint, and I want to share a couple of features that made my experience easier and more enjoyable.
The first is the priority entrance for people with disabilities:
I spotted these express ticket/entrance lines (like the one pictured above) at each entrance gate to Miller Park. These entrances allow wheelchair users and other people with disabilities to bypass the metal detector and gain quick admittance into the ballpark. For games that attract larger or sellout crowds, skipping the long line can be a great benefit!
Using public bathrooms can be a real challenge, especially when they are crowded. That’s why wheelchair users should head to the First Aid center and use one of their private, ADA-compliant bathrooms:
If you are traveling with a personal care assistant, this is the place to find privacy while taking care of business in the bathroom. You’ll also avoid the crowds and have much more space to move around. Ask the stadium personnel where the nearest first aid center is – they’ll direct you where you need to go.
The Midwest is home to some great people, and Milwaukee is no exception. This was my first trip to Miller Park, and I was really impressed by the friendly disposition of every Brewers staff member I encountered.
If you need some help or direction while at Miller Park, don’t be afraid to ask. I was treated with the utmost respect at every encounter – at the information desk, food vendors, ushers and the two wonderful ladies at the first aid station.
I even managed to get a picture with the Barrelman mascot. He started running around Miller Park in 2015, but the icon had previously been used as the team’s primary logo in the 1970s. It celebrates Milwaukee’s unique position in the beer/brewing industry. I should have asked him to teach me the popular Brewers song, “Roll Out the Barrel,” which is sung after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”:
Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel, we’ve got the blues on the run
Zing, boom tararrel, ring out a song of good cheer
Now’s the time to roll the barrel, for the gang’s all here
Accessible parking spaces are located within walking distance of the stadium, including in the main lots in front of and behind the ballpark.
If you’re looking to use public transportation, bus routes 23, 35 and BLUE all stop within one mile of the ballpark. I rode the BLUE bus from downtown both ways.
If you are staying at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, they offer a free shuttle to and from Brewers games. The shuttle has a wheelchair lift.
There are currently no wheelchair accessible taxi cabs/vans in the Milwaukee area.
I am a huge fan of baseball, and the opportunity to add another ballpark to my list was something I couldn’t pass up. Miller Park is a well-designed stadium, and I felt right at home with my wheelchair. I was further blessed with a pitcher’s duel and an extra inning, which made my experience all the more enjoyable.
If you are ever in Milwaukee, I highly recommend an afternoon (or night) at the ballpark. The Brewers’ National League Central division is very strong, and the games are almost always exciting and competitive. Miller Park offers an exceptional gameday experience for the wheelchair user – so kudos to the organization for making investments in accessibility!
For more information, check out the Brewers’ website at www.milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com.