Thursday, August 10, 2017

New & Improved Duck Blind at Warner Park

All photos of Madison and Warner Park available on Flickr.
I grew up in Milwaukee, I love Milwaukee, my wife and I own a house in Milwaukee.  But Madison will always hold a special place in our hearts as the place it all started.  A series of unfortunate circumstances brought us both to Madison, but as fate would have it we met there nearly 4 years ago and have been riding the wave ever since.  We were only there together a short time, but still look forward to making the 160-mile round trip a couple times a year to see old friends and hit all our old spots.
With any summer visit, a Mallards game is always on the agenda.  The Duck Pond and Big Top Baseball were at it once again this year undertaking yet another massive fan improvement project, this time to the popular Duck Blind.  What was nothing more than a concessions stand and a bunch of picnic tables 5 years ago has slowly upgraded over the years.  Another deck behind the right field wall was added a few years ago, and this year the existing Duck Blind was completely overhauled.  At the right field pole, formerly where the manual scoreboard sat, is now a 4-tiered section of suites and private party areas.  The ground level is kind of like the ATI Club (or whatever it's called now) at Miller Park, where you are literally on field level separated only by mesh.  This area is completely under the suites above so it is kind of dark, but it offers very luxurious seats, a beer bar with TVs, and an arcade for the kids.  As you can imagine this area gets a little crowded, and it is unfortunate that all the nice seats pretty much go to waste because people are either at the bar or running around chasing kids.  I tried to go sit down there in the middle of the game but was shut down by some Nazi kid usher.  The 2 levels above this are more indicative of a suite you might see at a "normal" ballpark, except at Warner Park it is anything but normal.  In lieu of traditional stud-and-sheathing construction, the suites are comprised of shipping containers stacked on top of each other.  This is a popular form of construction with modular homes especially in other countries, but to see them used in a commercial application is something straight out of the Mallards playbook - innovative cost-conscious ideas that enhance fan experience.  I imagine these suites are insulated and air-conditioned because I did hear what sounded like a big RTU humming when we exited the park.  The second level has a few rows of stadium chairs in front of the suites, and the third level has bar-height seating in front.  The 4th level is more of a roof level with tables, chairs, and awnings.  

Megan and I unfortunately did not get to see much of this part of the Duck Blind as we only purchased GA seats, but where we sat was upgraded as well.  The flat expanse of picnic tables has been changed to a 3-tiered section.  My major complaint about the Duck Blind previously was that unless you are sitting right on the rail, you can't see the game.  Not that anybody in an all-you-can-drink section would watch the game besides me, but still I appreciate the Mallards addressing this deficiency.  The concessions building still has the area on top for sitting, but it is now a private area, and it is on the same level as the top tier of the GA section.  This puts the concession building sort of in a tunnel below the GA seats.  This is kind of nice because it alleviates a lot of congestion.  The game was packed and I never had to wait in line for more than a minute nor had to push through any crowds because the seating is now separated on a different level than the concessions.  When you first arrive at the Duck Blind, or any part of Warner Park for that matter, to the untrained eye it looks like a hodge-podge of found materials, random seating sections, and a patchwork of additions.  But it was clear after an evening in the Duck Blind that all of the decisions and adjacencies were very meticulous thought out, no matter how haphazard they may appear.

Every year I come to Warner Park I cannot think of any possible way the Mallards can improve their product any more, and every year I am proven wrong and leave more impressed.  We had a great night at the ballpark and can't wait to see what is in store for the coming seasons, because I understand now that the team will never rest on their success.

Brewers 59-57, -1.5, -6.5 WC (3 v. Reds, 2 v. Pirates)
Reds 47-67, -12.5, -17.5 WC (3 @ Brewers, 4 @ Cubs)
Twins 56-56, -4.5, -1.5 WC (3 @ Tigers, 3 v. Indians)

Erik - 11 (+27 worked)
Peter - 29

No comments: