Miller Park to take on new guise under naming rights deal

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be afforded a new moniker in 2021 after the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise struck a 15-year naming rights partnership with American Family Insurance (AmFam).

Brewery MillerCoors has held naming rights to the 41,900-capacity venue since it opened in 2001. However, AmFam, a Wisconsin-based company and Brewers sponsor since the club moved into its stadium, will take over when Miller’s 20-year agreement ends.

The stadium will retain the Miller Park name through the conclusion of the 2020 season. The final five years of the AmFam naming rights agreement is predicated on an extension of the Brewers stadium lease. The lease currently runs through the 2030 season.

“We are excited to elevate our partnership with American Family Insurance, a heritage Wisconsin company that has been a sponsor of the Brewers since 2001 and one that shares our core values,” said Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio.

“This is a significant commitment that reflects American Family’s growing presence in Milwaukee, as well as their support of the Brewers. We look forward to all of the benefits this new partnership will bring to both of our organisations and to fans of the team.”

Financial terms of the AmFam deal were not disclosed, but reports of a significantly lucrative agreement have been rejected. “There are reports that the naming rights compensation offered by American Family was ‘incredibly rich,’ but that is exaggerated,” a source familiar with the deal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. “The deal is consistent with the size of the market, and comparable to what teams are receiving in similar naming rights deals.”

The partnership goes beyond the naming rights to the ballpark. The Brewers and AmFam will collaboratively fund community projects, including refurbishing youth and high school baseball fields. The two organisations will also work on marketing and promotional initiatives to enhance the fan and customer experience in both the stadium and in the community.

The new name for the stadium has yet to be determined. Miller’s existing deal is worth $40m (£30.8m/€35.2m) over the 20-year term and the company will retain strong ties to the Brewers as its beer partner.

The initial naming rights partnership was said to be key in providing additional investment to keep the team in Milwaukee. Both AmFam and the Brewers have conceded that fans will need time to get used to the change that will come through the new agreement.

Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger said, according to MLB.com: “Here’s the thing: We love having our fans’ views. The fans have passion about everything Brewers, and that includes the (stadium) name.

“What I would say to fans is they have some time to get used to it. We’re going to be respectful with the name and with our heritage. Miller beer is a prominent part of our experience here, and I don’t see that changing.”

Jack Salzwedel, chairman and chief executive of American Family Insurance, added: “I think we’ll give it a day or two and let things tone down a little bit. Whenever you have an iconic brand like this and there’s a switch, there’s a very big emotional reaction to it. Being active on social media, I do understand that. That doesn’t dilute the fact that when we look at this, we see a lot of real positives for our organisation – and for the Brewers as well. I think our brands align really well.”

Image: Visit Milwaukee