Milwaukee’s sports stadiums roared to life Friday night as the Brewers and Bucks drew enthusiastic, capacity crowds.
The Milwaukee Brewers sold out Miller Park for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Bucks faced the Indiana Pacers in a glitzy event that was a celebration of the new arena and the season to come.
Playing in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, the crowd roared approval as hitter after hitter got to Los Angles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu in the bottom of the first inning to take a 4-1 lead.
A must-win night for the Brew Crew with a World Series trip tantalizingly possible made for a you-had-to-be there feeling in the stands.
The same vibe was found downtown at Fiserv Forum, the new $524 million home of the Milwaukee Bucks. The first home opener at the new arena began with flames, lasers and thousands of synchronized blinking bracelets.
Guard Malcolm Brogdon took the microphone before the tipoff. “Thanks for your continued support,” he said to a lusty ovation.
Outside Fiserv Forum before the game, more than a few fans were rocking both Bucks and Brewers gear.
Arriving early were Dustin (Brewers jacket) and Jill (Bucks shirt) Sontag of Germantown.
They had tickets for Friday’s Brewers game but decided to sell them and go to the Bucks game.
“I figured it was a high risk, low reward,” Dustin Sontag said. “I’d rather do this than risk watching the Dodgers celebrate on our field.”
And, he noted, “it is the first home game here.”
Nearby, a block-long collection of tents pitched along Juneau Avenue contained dozens of fans of the band Twenty One Pilots, which plays the arena Saturday night.
Among them, Athena Kopulos, 21, a senior at Indiana University. She arrived early Friday and her group of four were numbers 42-45 in line for the pit seats for the hot-ticket show.
“This is so exciting and so much fun,” said Marc Lasry, who with fellow billionaire Wes Edens bought the Bucks from Sen. Herb Kohl and contributed $100 million toward the construction of the arena.
“It feels like you’re doing something for the community and that’s great,” Lasry said.
North Old World 3rd Street buzzed with anticipation as Milwaukee Bucks fans, fired up for the team’s first home opener at the new arena, celebrated alongside Brewers fans waiting to shuttle to Miller Park.
The Bucks did their best to make sure the Brewers game didn’t step too much on their opening party. The organization has worked four years toward Friday’s event, and the celebrating was infectious.
Friday morning, the Bucks celebrated the grand opening of the beer garden that connects the arena and plaza with the bars and restaurants on North Old World 3rd Street. The beer garden is the first component of an array of bars and restaurants that the Bucks development arm plans for the entertainment block.
A line of a half-dozen delivery trucks from breweries, bakeries and pretzel companies filled the alley behind Mader’s and Buck Bradley’s late Friday morning. Nearby bars and restaurants — especially those with shuttles to Miller Park — clearly expected an onslaught Friday afternoon and evening.
“I had the umpires come in last night, and there’s been a ton of out-of-town press and Los Angeles fans,” said Gino Fazzari, who operates the Calderone Club and San Giorgio near Fiserv Forum on North Old World 3rd Street.
“It’s outstanding,” he said.
Fazzari said the excitement about the Brewers playoff appearances and the Milwaukee Bucks home opener should be welcomed across Wisconsin.
“Think about the sales tax revenue all of those people are going to generate,” he said.
Attending Friday’s game was Mike Sorge, project principal for Mortenson, the construction manager for the arena project. Members of his construction management team were attending the game in a suite, he said.
“Everybody worked so hard on this. They deserve it,” Sorge said. “I think this is huge for the Bucks.”
The buzz of the dual events is unmistakable, said Sorge, who came to the game with wife, Jody, and son, Jack, 2.
“It’s really exciting for the city,” he said, surveying the crowd gathering outside the new beer garden. “It’s a completely different feeling from the old building.”
Sorge said he couldn’t help but keep an eye on events at Miller Park.
“We’ll be in a suite, so we can keep tabs on it,” he said.
A short history of Fiserv Forum, which has its grand opening on Aug. 26, 2018.
In advance of the grand opening, the Bucks released a new time-lapse video of the arena construction.
Bucks owner Lasry noted the Brewers game taking place across town and said it was a great time for Milwaukee.
“Milwaukee is becoming the city that you want to be in.”
Recent drone video footage of the completed Milwaukee Bucks Fiserv Forum on August 8, 2018.
Mike De Sisti and Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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