All photos of Warner Park available on Flickr.
After two long years, the tour finally kicks off this Sunday, but Erik and I decided that we just couldn't wait any more. Seeing as we are both huge fans of the Northwoods League and that we won't get to see any games upon our return since the season ends in mid-August, Erik and I have scheduled a little two-stop "Pre-Trip" to Madison and Green Bay to watch the Mallards and new expansion team the Bullfrogs duke it out.
Wednesday we arrived in Madison for game #2 of the day -- we watched the Brewers sweep the Giants by a 7-5 score at Miller Park early in the afternoon. After meeting up with a few of my friends that live there, we made our way around the ballpark. I have only been to one Northwoods League stadium, but Erik assured me that this was by far the best one. Typical Mallards crowds exceed well over 5,000, which is more than most A-ball teams draw in a week.
Describing Warner Park would be like trying to describe a beautiful sunset -- you really just have to experience it. You can't capture it in film or words adequately. I lived in Madison for 6 months last year, and have been a lifelong baseball fan, and the Mallards is by far the most fun I've ever had at a ballgame. There is tons of entertainment, the teams are fun to watch because they're all college kids, and the atmosphere is unparalleled. Throw in the fact that the food is outstanding and the team locker rooms directly flank the concourses, and that they serve Pabst, and you've got yourself a pretty sweet deal. As with all independent league/minor league parks, prices were very reasonable, and there was tons of free stuff being handed out at all times. Erik and I returned home with a foam hand, 4 souvenir cups, a program, and a baseball for a total of about $35, which includes ticket prices, parking, and the beer that came in the cups. And yes, you read the blog title right...it was "Simpsons Night" at the Duck Pond...there was Simpsons trivia all night, Simpsons music on the organ, many Homer soundbytes, and the Mallards even wore Springfield Isotopes jerseys. As Mr. Burns would say, "Excellent."
Tomorrow it is off to Green Bay for some more pre-trip college summer league action, in which the Green Bay Bullfrogs ironically take on the Madison Mallards.
park stats and rankings (1=worst/most $, 10=best/least $):
aesthetics - 6
views from park - 2
view to field - 10
surrounding area - 2
food variety - 7
nachos - 5 (the cheese was good, but the chips were chip'ns...)
beer - 8
vendor price - 9
ticket price - 8
atmosphere - 10
walk to park - 3parking price/proximity - 10concourses - 5
team shop - 6best food - beer-battered fries, cheese curds
most unique stadium feature - the "Duck Blind" picnic area
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - Maynard Mallard flies in on a zipcord with the first pitch ball
field dimensions - 320/380/310
starters - Michael Hutts (MAD) v. Andre Benjamin (BC)
opponent - Battle Creek Bombers
time of game - 2:17
attendance - 5500
score - 3-2 W
Brewers score that day - 7-5 W (41-31)