March 22, 1996. The Associated Press reported:
Rushing to beat today’s deadline to come up with $90 million to keep construction of a new Milwaukee Brewers stadium on track, the team Thursday announced Miller Brewing Co. had committed $41.2 million for the right to name the stadium Miller Park.
Miller and the Brewers said the deal was the single largest naming rights pact ever reached by a major league baseball team and would help the struggling team remain in Milwaukee.
“Today is a watershed day in the history of the Milwaukee Brewers,” Brewers President Bud Selig said in a statement. “Miller has stepped up to the plate in an historic way to ensure that the new ballpark is one of the finest in the world.”
The team last month was unable to secure collateral for a $50 million state loan that was also part of the legislative package. The stadium board appointed to oversee collection of the one-tenth of a percent sales tax hike then set a March 22 deadline for securing a financial package.
Miller intends to give the team $1.2 million this year, then pay $2 million a year for 20 years beginning in 1999 for naming rights and exclusive signage inside and outside the ballpark, said Patricia McKeithan, Miller vice president of corporate affairs.
Selig, the acting commissioner of baseball, has been careful not to publicly threaten to leave Milwaukee. But he has repeatedly said the team cannot survive here without the new stadium.
Given the uncertainty of the complex negotiations going on at the time there’s no telling what the future of the franchise would have been had Miller not stepped up to the plate.
I was with the WTMJ Radio New department then and we won awards for our ongoing coverage of the stadium debate.
Part of my team was the well-known Mark Siegrist who had spent many solid years at WISN-TV Channel 12. Mark was extremely dependable and likeable. The day before the Miller Park naming rights were announced Mark had found about it from a very, very, reliable source. But he was sworn to secrecy, and he kept his promise. Boy did he keep his promise. he told no one. Not even me or other members of the news department. I wasn’t thrilled and Mark, to this day a very good friend, wasn’t thrilled that I wasn’t thrilled. The department had a closed door discussion and the issue did work out. We had our story and were prepared. In today’s world where journalistic standards have been all but lost someone with the scoop Mark had would find a way to break the confidence and get the story on the air ASAP. Mark kept his word and did not sacrifice his principles. I’ll never forget that.
According to research conducted by the National Sports Law Institute of Marquette University Law School, the Miller Brewing Company purchased the naming rights to Miller Park for $41.2 million over twenty years. The deal had an average annual payout of $2.1 million and expired in 2020. American Family Insurance acquired the naming rights when the agreement with Miller Brewing Company ended in 2020. The 15-year agreement will begin in the 2021 season. The stadium will now be named American Family Field.
Fellow Franklinite Shaun Marefka took these photos today as signage was changed at the ballpark.
See more here.
This change will never sit well with many fans.