Model-building MSOE student tours Miller Park
Tim Kaebisch devoted a large portion of his teen years to constructing a model of Miller Park out of LEGO bricks and pieces.
When he walked into the stadium earlier this month for a behind-the-scenes tour, the first thing Kaebisch saw was another model of the ballpark encased in plexiglass near the reception desk.
"This model probably isn't as fascinating as Tim's," said Mike Duckett, executive director of the Stadium District Board and the tour guide for Kaebisch and his family. "It was actually built for the lawsuit with Mitsubishi.
"It has seven roof panels and five of them are movable. The roof panels do work manually. But, it doesn't have a bullpen, a sports bar or the Gehl Club. It's nice, but it doesn't have all the detail."
It was Kaebisch's attention to detail that caught Duckett's attention.
Well, OnMilwaukee.com played a small part, too.
We first wrote about Kaebisch's model early in March and two local TV stations followed up with stories of their own. Duckett was doing some online research about the stadium when he came across our story.
"I really found it interesting," Duckett said. "I've never been much of model builder myself, but when I read about Tim I thought it would be neat to meet him and bring his family here for a tour."
OnMilwaukee.com was invited to tag along as Kaebisch, his brother and his parents walked through the ballpark hours after the Brewers finished a homestand.
Kaebisch, 22, who will graduate from Milwaukee School of Engineering next year, received a packet of information from Duckett.
"This is a summary from our contractor," Duckett said. "I don't know how many thousands of LEGO bricks you used, but this will give you a breakdown of the materials used in construction.
"The final building weighs over 500,000 tons. Other than the power plants in Wisconsin, it's probably the heaviest building in the state."
Kaebisch and Duckett talked about pilings, columns, crossbeams and the way the entire ballpark and roof are supported in bedrock.
"When the crane collapsed, we had 2,000 tons of steel fall into the building," Duckett said. "There were a lot of rumors in the media that the ballpark was settling. Forensic engineers made us uncover our pile caps to prove there wasn't damage below grade. Everything was where it was supposed to be, which speaks to the building's solidarity.
When the crane fell, we had 75 percent of the exterior glass put in. But not one pane of glass was broken. The building didn't shift or contort at all. I chuckle when people say 'I hear rumors ballpark is settling.' Unless the bedrock is settling, the ballpark isn't settling."
As the tour continued, Duckett pointed out new features and chatted about how Brewers owner Mark Attanasio likes to change things to keep the ballpark "fresh."
"It makes our model out in the lobby outdated right away," Duckett said. "And, it probably makes it hard for you to keep up."
The tour includes stops in two party suites -- 1957 and 1982 -- and the newly refurbished Gehl Club, as well as a stop in the press box, where Kaebisch got to see the controls for the roof, which are housed in the same room that houses the scoreboard / video command center.
"I've been here a few times," Kaebisch said. "But, I've never seen that before. That's really cool."
Kaebisch's model is on display at the MSOE Library, but will make an appearance outside Miller Park during the Harley-Davidson 105th anniversary celebration. When that ends, he'd love to take it inside so Brewers fans can see it during the final month of the season.
"I think we can find a place for it," Duckett said.
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