MILWAUKEE — Perhaps no professional sports team fit the name of its home stadium better than the Milwaukee Brewers playing at Miller Park.
But those days are officially numbered.
On Tuesday, the Brewers announced that the ballpark’s naming rights will go to American Family Insurance for 15 years starting in 2021.
“American Family Insurance has deep roots with the Brewers, has been a partner since 2001 and is a great Wisconsin heritage brand,” Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger said at Miller Park. “American Family is making a major commitment to the City of Milwaukee, an increased visible presence in our community; the naming rights to this ballpark is just one facet of that commitment.”
A new name has not been announced yet.
Beer brewer MillerCoors has owned the naming rights of Miller Park since the park opened in 2001.
“Miller has been a longtime partner of the Brewers stretching for decades,” Schlesinger said. “The relationship that we have with MillerCoors extends way beyond the naming rights. We appreciate the historical commitment of MillerCoors and Miller Brewing to Milwaukee and to our city and to our team.”
Schlesinger said this opportunity American Family allowed the Brewers to build a relationship “with a sophisticated Fortune 500 company that understands marketing and will align with our brands. A partnership of this magnitude and significance does not happen without vision, perseverance, strategic leadership and a lot of hard work.
“For the Brewers, a partnership of this magnitude means several things. It’s an alignment of two great Wisconsin brands, it’s a partnership with a company that has an active, intense involvement in the community and cares about diversity, inclusion, its citizens and making it a better place to live and work.”
Jack Salzwedel, chairman and CEO of American Family Insurance, joked that this was the biggest news “since the chorizo was added to the racing sausages.”
Salwedel said the Brewers approached American Family last summer with the opportunity to get the naming rights to the building.
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American Family Insurance’s relationship with the Brewers began in 1995, Salzwedel said, with American Family Night at what was then Milwaukee County Stadium.
“This really caps a great, long relationship with the Brewers,” he said.
Salzwedel thanked MillerCoors for supporting the team during the transition to Miller Park.
“When they stood up and said they would take the naming rights back in the day when we weren’t even sure if the stadium was going to be built, it took a lot of vision and forethought,” Salzwedel said. “MillerCoors is an iconic brand in the state of Wisconsin”
The naming rights is just part of a larger overall strategy American Family Insurance has with the City of Milwaukee.
“This fits with an overall Milwaukee strategy that we’ve been working on for probably about a year,” Salzwedel said. “It involves building a fairly large building down in the core of the city and a strategy that includes more jobs.”
The location of the building has not been finalized, Salzwedel said, but he added that the the company plans to add jobs in data and software engineering, and have an increased presence at Summerfest.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said this is an exciting announcement for the city.
“What better way to ensure a great season and a great future for the Milwaukee Brewers than to have American Family Insurance as a part of this?” Barrett said. “We think that this is a beautiful relationship that’s going to grow even stronger between your company and this city.”
MillerCoors, which has a brewery located just a mile from the stadium, committed $41.2 million for the naming rights in March 1996, nine months before ground was broken. Miller Park, with its convertible roof, was opened in 2001 and replaced Milwaukee County Stadium.
In an email sent to employees Tuesday, MillerCoors said it plans to continue its relationship with the team.
“Late last year American Family Insurance proactively pitched the Brewers an incredibly rich offer for the future naming rights to Miller Park, and we’re proud to welcome American Family to the family we’ve been part of for generations,” the email said. “While the name on the stadium will change following the 2020 season, our relationship with the Brewers remains as strong as ever.”