Warner Park – Madison Mallards
Baseball in Madison begins in 1982 with the Madison Muskies, a Midwest League Oakland A’s affiliate. In 1994 the Muskies were replaced for one year by a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, the Madison Hatters. The Hatters could not draw so beginning in 1996 the independent Madison Black Wolves arrived and played at the park for five years.
In 2001, a local businessman bought a new Northwood League (Collegiate level) team and named them the Madison Mallards. The club has been a huge success at the ballpark, appearing in four league championship series and winning it all in both 2004 and 2013. The team is also the number one drawing collegiate level club in North America, averaging 6,363 fans per game on an annual basis.
In 2014, the Mallards ownership group created Big Top Baseball which owns four Northwoods League franchises in the state of Wisconsin (Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish, and Green Bay Bullfrogs).
Ownership has invested over three million dollars in stadium improvements since its beginnings. In 2011, the ballpark began major renovations including new grandstands with stadium seats from Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. In addition, a VIP deck behind home plate was added.
In 2012, a grass berm area in the left field and the Great Dane Duck Blind Club (an elevated deck in right field for private parties) were added. The next year a 440 square foot video board was added. In 2017, the Mallards renovated the Great Dane Duck Blind making it three levels of suites and a climate-controlled space that can be used year round. In addition, a bar area was added to the grass berm area featuring seats from the Utah Jazz arena. Also, there is a picnic seating area close to the foul lines in left field which is also for private parties.
The field is grass and the dimensions are 308 feet to left field, 380 feet to center field, and 290 feet to right field. So the field is really friendly for home run hitters. In addition, the park is home to a few local high school baseball teams.
Food & Beverage 5
There are several concession stands with the usual ballpark fare including nachos, hot dogs, brats, burgers, chicken sandwiches, ice cream, soft pretzels, and funnel cake. However, there are other options like an elite dog, gyro brat, specialty brats (a different flavor each game), cranberry-walnut chicken salad, baked potato, and poutine.
Some additional unique items include “Beer nuts” which are deep-fried bull testicles, black bean veggie burger, sesame calamari fries, pulled pork or brisket sandwich, a foot long KC bbq dog, pulled pork mac & cheese and grilled corn on the cob.
Of course, being in Wisconsin, there are cheese curds (there are four different types: jalapenos, hand dipped, Doritos battered and beer battered). The food items are reasonably priced. Nothing is more than $10. My favorites here are fried cheese curds and brisket which are very tasty. The gyro dog is very good too. The lines at the food concessions move relatively quickly. The condiment selection here is basic with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, onions, relish, and jalapenos.
The beer is provided by Budweiser. However, there are many craft brews as well, including Great Dane, Stella, Shock Top, Magic Hat, Kona, Goose Island, Breckenridge and New Belgium. The tap craft beers come in two sizes that sell for $6.50 or $12. Wine is available for $7.
All the workers are friendly and provide good service. No outside food besides peanuts are allowed in the park.
The entrance to the park has an arch which reads “Welcome to your 9 inning Vacation.” This is the attitude that the club has. The park is jumping with activity and fun in every direction. It’s too bad other ballparks don’t understand this.
As soon as you walk in you see a carnival/kids paradise. There is a bouncy house, other activities for kids, several small carnivals games, and even a sandbox.
There are only 10 rows to the seating area on the third base side and 23 rows to the seating area on the other side. Every seat is close although they are not tilted toward home plate. There is a press box in a small building behind home plate.
The Mallards have two mascots; Maynard G. Mallard and Millie Mallard which both are ducks. Maynard and Millie are found throughout the stadium and on the field during the game. In addition, Maynard delivers the baseballs prior to the game on a zip line from the right field foul pole to home plate.
The team store is near the entrance and it is large, but it seems it should have more product (shirts, hats, etc). It is still good though.
The ballpark has a huge LED scoreboard in right center and nice video board in left center. Both are really nice, however, I would have liked to see the scoreboard used for something other than advertisements when the score is not showing.
There is a recreational park adjacent to the ballpark with a small lake and a strip mall across the street. Otherwise, the ballpark is located within a residential area.
Surprisingly, there are not a lot of restaurants located near the park. However, if you drive about five minutes you can find a couple of chain restaurants like Pizza Hut, Subway, and Culvers. There are some local joints including Smoky Jon’s BBQ, Villa Tap (bar food), and Ale Asylum (a great microbrewery).
The fans in attendance are very friendly. The Mallards have averaged over 6,000 people a game since 2011. The mix of fans is the same at most ballparks with lots of families, people who are really into baseball, and people who just like to hang out and catch up.
The between inning entertainment is the usual minor league stuff including throwing t-shirts, a race, etc. However, the Mallards do a baby race where two babies are placed on a mat and the first to cross the finish line wins the prize. It’s surprisingly fun.
The park is located at the intersection of Sherman Drive and Northport Road (State Road 113) which is just west of the Dane County Airport. It is not hard to get to but it is basically a main road with lots of lights.
Parking is free, which is nice. Getting out of the parking lot will take you a long time so be prepared to wait in line.
There are several bathrooms so the lines are not long even with a full ballpark.
Return on Investment 5
Going to a Mallards game is definitely worth the price and time. The price of a regular ticket ranges from $8 for lawn seating (which does not give you access to the ballpark), $12, or $15. There is a “Duck Blind” section which includes food and beer/soda for $25-$41 depending on what you want included in your package and the day. In addition, on the Northwoods League website there is a “ticket exchange” so it is possible you can get tickets for a bit cheaper.
A Mallards game is great time and there is some decent collegiate league ball.
The Mallards get an extra star for having duck feet prints painted on the walk from the entrance to the seating area. It is touches like this that make a park special.
There is a Hall of fame and a pictorial history of the Mallards behind the stands on the third base side. In addition, on the rooftop suites there are five retired numbers from former Mallard players.
In addition, the ballpark gets an extra star for having a “strike out batter” which is if the designated batter for the night strikes out, beer is half off. I find this a fun feature because fans are really rooting for a strikeout, and it gets really loud.
Lastly, the Mallards get another extra star for having a dog retrieve the bats for the Mallards in selected innings.
While the ballpark is not a fancy new park it is very nice and it has a big time feel especially for a collegiate level team. It is a must see for any baseball fan.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
A great time at the ballpark here in Madison. The beer flows freely, the atmosphere is lively, and it is always a must on my list when I am in town--6,000 fans per game can&#039t be wrong.