The $60-plus million rebuild of the Milwaukee Brewers’ spring training home in Phoenix has opened.
Team also extends new naming-rights agreement to Phoenix complex
When the six gold scissors cut through the blue ribbon at the $60-plus million rebuild of the Milwaukee Brewers’ spring training home in Phoenix, the Major League Baseball team showed off more than a fresh take on a baseball field, introducing a mix of new training center upgrades, updated fan spaces and even highlighting a new sponsorship.
Less than three weeks after announcing that the club’s home stadium in Milwaukee will turn naming rights over to American Family Insurance in 2021, the Feb. 12 unveiling of the spring training and player development complex gives Madison-based American Family a head start on the Milwaukee partnership with an immediate name change at the 56-acre Phoenix facility, now dubbed American Family Fields of Phoenix.
“We initially developed three significant goals for the complex,” said Mark Attanasio, Brewers chairman and principal owner, at the event, “to develop a world-class facility for year-round player development and spring training, to create a dramatically improved fan experience and to demonstrate a commitment to investing in the community. With the complex now complete, we believe we have fulfilled this vision.”
The Brewers invested over $60 million in the renovation of the project with the city of Phoenix adding in $2 million annually for five years and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority contributing $5.7 million.
With a design from HKS and construction from Mortensen, the project anchor features a 106,000-square-foot clubhouse with locker rooms and a home for baseball operations. Previously the major and minor league operations were separate, but the 82,000-square-foot expansion brings them under one roof.
Fan enhancements include new concessions, retail stores (the flagship store is now accessible from outside the main stadium during non-game times), a new entry plaza with updated ticketing systems, a shift from metal bench seating to fixed seating in the roughly 10,000-capacity venue, widened concourses on the first-base side, a fresh Daktronics video board in left field and updated viewing areas at the practice diamonds. The third-based concourse was replaced with new ticketing, fan concessions, back-of-house offices, a new commissary and restrooms. The project also expanded parking on site to more than 700 spaces.
In keeping with the effort to build a year-round player development home, American Family Fields of Phoenix now includes a renovated sports science and psychological services area of 24,000 square feet. It comes with an eight-lane batting tunnel, an agility field, new pitching and catching mounds, a high-performance practice field that matches Miller Park’s dimensions in Milwaukee and improvements to each of the seven playing fields on site. All major league practice fields and the main stadium were resurfaced with new turf, clay and foul territory and warning tracks.
Mike Drye, HKS principal, said the architect selected simple forms and materials to improve the flow for players, coaches and executives while keeping the site connected to the outdoors and the fans. The complex will offer a “source of humble pride and a haven for developing athletes and inspiring fans,” Drye said.
The Brewers originally moved their spring training facility to the Maryvale area of Phoenix in 1998 after area developer John F. Long and his wife, Mary, donated 56 acres of land. The new home plate entry plaza was named the John F. and Mary P. Long Plaza.
The city retains ownership of the facility, but the Brewers will manage and operate it. In an effort to create a community connection, the Brewers partnered with Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University to create a Learning Lounge, an area inside the clubhouse building where local students have access to free tutoring from college students on most school days.
Spring training kicks off this week with the first full-team workout set for Feb. 19 at the renovated facility. The first of 15 Brewers spring home games is Feb. 26 against San Diego.