Although the playoffs are still fresh in our memories, Brewers fans will notice some changes to Miller Park on Opening Day. Among the improvements to the ballpark for this year:
* On the Club Level, the retail space near the Home Plate Lounge has been expanded to create an enclosed 800-square-foot Brewers Team Store. The retail store will contain a larger selection of Brewers merchandise and accommodate more customers.
* On the Field Level, in the "Hot Corner," the Brewers have constructed "Bernie's Chalet," which resembles the mascot's original chalet at County Stadium. The space on the Field Level will sell custom-made Brewers merchandise and also will provide a glimpse of the inside of Bernie Brewer's bedroom.
* The newly named ATI Club on the field in right field has new signage and an updated layout.
* The Gehl Club, Harley-Davidson Deck and NYCE Stadium Club Patio each received minor aesthetic updates.
* The 2008 Brewers Party Suite on the Club Level is being transformed into the 2011 Brewers Party Suite, resulting in new graphics and artwork representative of the 2011 National League Central Champions.
* At Helfaer Field, changes will impact both the interior and exterior spaces. In the inside atrium, upgrades include new signage and buffet carts. Outside, the facility will receive a fresh coat of paint while misters are being added above the concourse for hot summer days. All of the spaces were designed by Uihlein-Wilson Architects of Milwaukee.
Fans also will notice signage and other promotions for Southwest Airlines, which has is the new official airline sponsor of the Brewers. The sponsorship includes in-stadium signage, a field-level interactive fan experience and a "How far did it fly?" in-game feature during Brewers home games. On the field, the Brewers have hired Justin Scott as the club's director of grounds. Scott will handle the role previously held by Gary Vanden Berg, who passed away last October after a career of more than 30 years with the organization. Scott joins the Brewers after five seasons as manager of Groundskeeping with the Kansas City Royals.
In the broadcast booth, Joe Block will make his debut in Milwaukee as Bob Uecker's latest play-by-play partner. Block most recently served as postgame show host on radio for the Los Angeles Dodgers on KABC-AM (2011) and was radio studio host for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets (2007-2011). He also has handled play-by-play for major college basketball and football on Comcast Sports Southeast for the past 10 years. Block, 33, succeeds Cory Provus who joined the Minnesota Twins broadcast team last month. Uecker is marking the 50th Anniversary of his first Major League Baseball game as a player this season.
"Joe and I spent some time together and I think he'll be a great addition," Uecker said. "Joe sounds good on the air, he's a Midwest guy and he wants to be in Milwaukee as a part of the Brewers. Bottom line, all of those are important qualities that will make him successful here."
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.