The Milwaukee Mile is dying.
It is a sad truth for the world's oldest continually operating race track, which has been hosting races since 1903. Formerly a home to races sponsored by NASCAR, CART, and IndyCar, no major racing events were scheduled at the track in 2016. Even the once popular IndyFest did not return to Milwaukee this summer. The track still hosts some driving schools and other minor events, but without a major draw there is serious doubt over whether the track can continue operating in the future. There has already been one section of bleachers put up for sale, which could lead to more dismantling of the track in the future.
Yesterday, our own JP shed light on the depressing situation regarding the Player Development Contract for the Milwaukee Brewers' AAA affiliate. The club is currently partnered with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, which due to the poor facility in Colorado Springs and the harsh pitching environment of the nation’s highest elevation stadium, has not proven to be a fruitful pairing. Unfortunately the other circumstances around the league make it appear as though the Brewers will have no choice but to continue their PDC with Colorado Springs for at least the near future.
To combat both of these issues, I have a suggestion for Brewers’ principle owner Mark Attanasio:
Partner with the Milwaukee Mile to bring the Brewers’ AAA affiliate to West Allis!
Having sports other than racing being hosted at the Mile is nothing new, as the Green Bay Packers actually played several games per season at the facility from 1934-1951 on a field known as the “Dairy Bowl.” This has lead to speculation on UWM message boards that a football field could be installed at the race track and used for a possible reincarnation of a UWM football team. Here is what a possible football field installed on the site would look like:
So if a football field can fit on the infield of the mile, why not a baseball field?
Using the dimensions of a regulation football field (360 ft x 160 ft), I extrapolated out roughly the area that would be required to build a baseball field on the infield of the Mile. As you can see from the picture above, the field could feasibly be created without really having to tear up any of the one mile oval track or the 1.8 mile road course. Home plate could be in the southwest corner (lower left hand side) of the proposed field area with foul lines extending up the western and southern borders of the field.
As far as seating goes, well, the Mile already has seating for roughly 35,000 people that can be utilized. Of course a minor league baseball affiliate shouldn’t expect to draw anywhere near that amount of people, but the sections of the main grandstand that would provide the best field views can be offered up for sale, and the smaller movable seating sections can be moved closer to the southern border of the field to provide additional seating from a different vantage point.
As the club’s partnership with the Timber Rattlers in Appleton has shown, there can be a noticeable attendance boost for a minor league club with local ties. People have come from all over the state to Outagamie County to see some of the Brewers’ best young talent in action. Wouldn’t you pay to go see players like Josh Hader and Lewis Brinson, two of baseball’s top prospects and currently playing at the AAA level? The team could conceivably join either AAA league. The Pacific Coast League extends as far east as Iowa, Oklahoma City, and even Nashville with their affiliates, and the International League extends as far west as Indianapolis.
Parking shouldn’t be a problem, either, as there is already a large parking lot on State Fair/Pettit Center site. If additional parking is required during games, then the track can be utilized for space as it is during the annual State Fair each August.
As the proposed field would not require the removal of either race track, the Mile could still continue hosting the races and driving schools that it currently does. It would simply have to work with the club and minor league baseball to schedule around the handful of dates that will be reserved each season. There would also have to be a road trip each August during State Fair, but a ten-day road trip isn’t anything out of the ordinary in the life of professional baseball players.
Mark A. and the Brewers saved some $40 mil on payroll this season, and that money could conceivably be used to re-invest in the club and Milwaukee Mile. Purchasing a minor league affiliate generally costs in between $20-$30 mil. The Brewers wouldn’t need to purchase land for a stadium, they would simply work out an agreement to become tenants at the Mile. Rather than having to build an entire new facility, the main costs would be laying a baseball field and installing locker rooms and a workout facility.
A hotel was recently built across the street from the facility on Greenfield Ave, as well, which could very easily house any visiting players. There is plenty of affordable housing available in the area for the club’s players and a myriad of entertainment options for players to explore in their free time. It would also make the process of being called up or sent down much easier. Imagine how many frequent flier miles someone like Keon Broxton could have saved this season if he only had to travel to back and forth from West Allis after being demoted and recalled four times before settling in as the regular center fielder.
The situation in Colorado Springs is dismal for the Milwaukee Brewers, and so is the prospective future of the historic Milwaukee Mile. By partnering together, the Brewers could contribute to the local economy by “saving the mile” and helping to generate the revenue that has stopped coming in from hosting marquee racing events. The Mile could continue operating as a race track as well without having the stress of searching for a new ‘big ticket’ event, keeping the tradition of racing in Milwaukee alive going forward.
Here are some possible names that have been suggested for the prospective affiliate:
West Allis Chalmers
West Allis Barnecks
West Allis Infielders
West Allis Blues
So how about it, Mark? Let’s bring professional baseball to Wisconsin’s beautiful “City at the Center!”