MILWAUKEE — In the 18 months since American Family Field, formerly known as Miller Park, hosted Brewers fans, the pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on the ballpark and beyond.
Team officials and leaders in the business community believe opening day will be a step toward building confidence across the community.
"We're excited to restart the engine that is this ballpark, bring jobs back, bring excitement back, presumably bring some wins as well. But really encourage people that mass gatherings can be done safely that people should feel comfortable and very safe coming here," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers President of Business Operations.
Next Thursday's opening day could be more meaningful than years past as a sign of something that resembles normalcy.
Team leaders say normally up to 1,300 employees would work opening day, but with limited capacity, that number will be closer to 900 this year.
Schlesinger declined to say how much revenue was lost due to the pandemic. Instead, he said he was focused on the loss of jobs, loss of engagement with fans, and showcasing the ballpark as a safe entertainment destination.
However, data from an outside group Team Marketing Report said the Brewers lost $178.3 million in projected game-day revenue.
As vaccinations increase and fans return to the stadium business community leaders said it is an important step toward building confidence.
"It really makes a point about Major League Baseball and the impact it has on this community not only for the people who are going to work here in the stadium on opening day but the countless jobs that are generated in this community as people go out to bars and restaurants. They buy goods and services. The Brewers spend on their supply chain," said Tim Sheehy, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
Schlesinger said there is no hard timeline when it comes to revisiting the ballpark's fan capacity, but he remained optimistic things will move in the right direction.