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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers, begin a new season in a renovated stadium. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

Milwaukee, Appleton and Green Bay media take a tour of the construction project at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

A balcony outside of the new banquet hall will give baseball fans a great view from right behind home plate. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

The $6.2 million renovation project at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton includes an expanded team store. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

The new banquet hall can be used for weddings and other events before and after games. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

The new suites will feature new indoor and outdoor seating. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

In Sports Commentary

Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav tells area media members about the finishing touches to be completed before opening day on April 8. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky )

Renovated Timber Rattlers nest welcomes Brewers fans


APPLETON – Before the first wall was taken down, the Timber Rattlers' renovated stadium was already called a gem.

Milwaukee baseball fans may have known about Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Brewers. But team organizers are hoping that they will take the less than 2-hour trip north to check out the new digs.

The stadium is mere weeks away from its April 8 season opener and will unveil a $6.2 million renovation.

"We added an upscale atmosphere to the ball park," Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav said during a press tour of the facility on Tuesday. "This is making the business year round."

With the project planned and paid for by the Fox Cities Amateur Sports Authority, along with a grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, this upgrade included added restroom facilities, larger food prep areas, a weight room for the players, expanded team shop and a second story with enough space for banquets and meetings.

Also, new luxury suites that include indoor and outdoor seating and overall seating capacity increased at the stadium from 5,500 to 5,900. Zerjav said the seating increase was deliberate, as the organization didn't want to add to the facility and add points of sale, only to have some of the same problems that they have had in the past.

Besides being home to events like the WIAA state baseball championships, the venue is still on the docket for Donald Driver's celebrity softball fundraiser.

For Brewers fans, it is a chance to see a ball game for much less money than would be spent at Miller Park, as well as a chance to see the players that will eventually get called up to the major league. Also, for players on the mend, the Timber Ratters is a prime location for a rehab assignment with how close it is to Milwaukee and the ball club's medical staff.

A huge awning will greet visitors at the main gate, and inside will deliver top amenities that fans expect at modern stadiums. It will easily be the best facility in the Brewer's farm system.

The new banquet hall will be available for groups and organizations, and be a place for baseball fans to hang out following a game. According to the ball club, there are a dozen wedding receptions booked.

"And that's site unseen. Those brides have a lot of faith," Zerjav said.

The hall will be able to accommodate around 250, and is flanked by the six new suites that are available for game days.

"Suites have evolved," Zerjav said, stating that the renovation allows for items that weren't available in the few rooms near the press box in year's past.

The team offers a number of individual ticket and group packages including pre-game picnics that includes food in the price. Find information on the team's website.

For those who have been to the facility in the past 19 years, even in the years the Timber Rattlers were an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, this year promises to deliver something different.

"This is what we envisioned, it has a good feel," Zerjav said.

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