Henry Aaron Field – Milwaukee Panthers
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A Field Not Fit for a King
If someone were to ask you to quickly guess where the only NCAA Division I baseball program in Wisconsin is located you would likely say in Madison, but you would be incorrect. The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is the correct answer and Henry Aaron Field is the home of the UW-Milwaukee Panthers. Henry Aaron Field looks more like a high school or even rec league field, located in the middle of a park with only small sections of old metal bleachers. This facility is no doubt past its usefulness as a college baseball facility. Many fans bring their own folding chairs for comfort and sit right behind the chain-link backstop.
Perhaps the school administration has recognized the issues with Henry Aaron Field as recent news indicates the Panthers are in negotiations with MKE Sports & Entertainment LLC to build a new multi-use facility in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I was also informed by a team representative the 2015 season will be the final season at Henry Aaron Field as the Panthers will play home games in 2016 at a facility known as The Rock. The Rock Sports Complex located in Franklin features amenities that Henry Aaron Field lacks such as concessions, grandstands, restrooms, and a turf field. While I was not informed which field at The Rock the Panthers will call home in 2016, I was able to find out that the complex features six fields each of which are modeled after the dimensions of MLB facilities in Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and of course Milwaukee.
Food & Beverage 1
There is no food or beverage anywhere to be found, the only reason this section receives one star is because of the fact that you can bring your own cooler. The members of the crowd bring coolers with food and beverages. While the facility isn’t much, the ability to bring in a cooler is a huge money savings and adds a unique feeling taking a picnic to a baseball game.
The field isn’t within walking distance from campus, which is likely why the majority of the crowd consists of friends and family of the players. The positive aspects of bringing a cooler and folding chair and being able to enjoy a college baseball game so close to the action can’t be ignored however. It is a unique setting, even if it is a no frills atmosphere.
The neighborhood doesn’t contain much beyond residential housing. It isn’t a bad part of town, it just doesn’t contain much in the way of businesses. The campus is not nearby as it is 4 1/2 miles southeast of the field. It is a relatively quick drive however that can be done with both Interstate 43 or surface streets.
The fans in attendance are very polite and friendly. They also have a great knowledge of the game. It is pretty obvious though that their passion and knowledge is because they are all friends or family members of either the home or away team players. All fans are cordial and anything they shout is positive in nature beyond the occasional obligatory “that pitch looked good to me blue!”
Driving to Henry Aaron Field is a fairly easy commute, easily accessible from Interstate 43 or from surface streets. Driving from campus provides several routes to ensure the drive should go smoothly regardless of time or day of the week. An additional huge plus is that parking is free. There is plenty of street parking along with a decent sized parking lot located down the third base line. Students can take a shuttle to the field if they desire from campus.
Return on Investment 5
There are no tickets so admission is free, parking is free, you can bring your own cooler with food and beverages, and you are seeing a good competitive game of Division I baseball. This is a good investment on a game day by itself but may also be a great consideration for a day game if you are already in town for a Brewers game at Miller Park that evening.
The ability to see a game for free and to pack your own picnic has to be mentioned again. One extra star for each of these features.
The opportunities to see a game at Henry Aaron Field become fewer with every game day that passes. Recent news indicates the Panthers are in negotiations with MKE Sports & Entertainment LLC to build a new multi-use facility in Oak Creek, WI. Regardless if those plans come to fruition, a team representative told me that the 2015 season will be the final season at Henry Aaron Field as the Panthers will play home games in 2016 at a facility known as The Rock.
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