Cheaper concessions, new experiences and rule changes: The Brewers' plan to get attendance back to pre-pandemic levels

NOW: Cheaper concessions, new experiences and rule changes: The Brewers’ plan to get attendance back to pre-pandemic levels

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Brewers announced several new game day offerings aimed to attract fans back to the Brew Crew's home ballpark and boost attendance figures back to pre-pandemic levels.

The team introduced some of its new offerings during a news conference at American Family Field on Monday, March 27.

The offerings include the new 414 Menu -- which features items like a junior hot dog, junior nachos, junior soda and Cracker Jack each for $4. The Brewers are also introducing a new Sunday Fun-Day Bundle package which includes four tickets, four hot dogs, four hot dogs and a parking pass for a total of $59. More tickets can be added for larger families.

"This appeals to the families and the others on budgets where inflation and other factors have made it tough for people to spend discretionary money," Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger told reporters. "We don't want anybody saying they can't come to a Brewers game because of price."

The offerings were the result of feedback the team received from fan surveys.

"People said that they liked the concession offerings, they like the quality, they like the speed of the lines but they thought some of the prices were too high," Schlesinger. "So, we did a conscious effort in the offseason to offer value meals and reduce some concession prices."

In the season just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brew Crew saw some of their best attendance levels, reaching a game average of 36,090 people.

But the pandemic forced the 2020 season to happen with no fans. The 2021 season began with some restrictions and the 2022 season began late because of the MLB lockout, albeit with a full 162-game schedule.

"We're looking to bounce back to get to those pre-Covid attendance levels," Schlesinger said. "And I'm very confident, in short order, we'll get there."

Franchise leaders said there are promising signs ahead of Opening Day.

"Our early ticket sales have been very strong, our group business is back to 2019 levels," Schlesinger said. "We're excited about this season's seat base, our renewals are about 95%, which is a great number."

Schlesinger added the team hopes to work towards reaching 3,000,000 total fans in a season in the years to come, an achievement the franchise hasn't reached since 2011.

The team is focusing on other experiences to help achieve that, including the return of Autograph Sundays; a regularly scheduled autograph session between players and kids. The Brewers are also debuting the 4-1-Force entertainment squad to boost energy during home games by tossing t-shirts to fans and leading in-game promotions. The ballpark will also feature a new audio system, new colored LED lights and a return of fireworks for home run and win celebrations. The 2023 season also marks the start of the new J. Leinenkugel's Barrel Yard restaurant and bar.

According to Schlesinger, fans who were surveyed during the offseason also listed a successful team as a priority for attracting them to the ballpark. The team executive believes a series of rule changes will work in the Brew Crew's favor.

"A team who is poised to take advantage of the rule changes in 2023," Schlesinger said. "No shifts, larger bases and pitch clock all are going to feed into what we think is a very exciting product on the field."

The Brewers home opener is April 3 against the New York Mets.

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