The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Playing at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, they are a gem of the Fox cities in north eastern Wisconsin.
I recently traveled to Appleton for work, and was able to attend two games: Opening night, and a subsequent day game. This gave me plenty of opportunity to take in all of what the Timber Rattlers had to offer.
Their stadium was recently renovated, and still had a bit of work to be done. It was a fairly modern feeling minor league stadium. It had a medium sized feel, from the size of the town to the size of the stadium facilities. Parking and traffic was easy and well maintained. The stadium has a walkway going around the entire field, making it an easy 10 minute walking lap. There was plenty of food, drink and bathroom options as well. Even on a night that can be as chaotic as opening night, operations were well run.
As construction had delays due to a rough winter, there was still work being done in the outfield. The team is working on a reconstruction of the Bernie Brewer slide, which had a skeleton but no slide. There are multiple outfield boxes also being installed, which were just a shell. The team did complete construction on a left field patio, with high top tables and seats facing the field. While comparable to say, Wrigley Field's bleachers, I prefer this kind of set up because the seats were more comfy and the table made food and drink much more convenient.
I sat in left field for opening night, and behind home plate for the next day game. Both were solid places to sit. Left field is obviously a bit further away from the action, but the fun atmosphere makes up for that. While it was unseasonably warm during the day, there was a nice cool breeze coming out from home plate, that aided in a couple of home runs. The behind home plate section gives you a great perspective of the action, but I cooked in the sun all day. Fortunately, there were plenty of concessions to help keep me cool.
I was pleased to find beer bats available in the left field craft bar. At this point, I've collected 4 of them. I'm pleased to say that the TR's offer the best deal on beer bats, with an initial purchase of a 24oz bat being just $20. Other stadiums don't offer refills, but you can get them here for $10. As one would hope, plenty of good Wisconsin craft beer available for your bat as well. The added bonus was the ability to leave the stadium for the parking lot and to come back in. Once I had my share of beer bat fun, I threw it in my car to keep it safe. I could also bring it back empty the next day for the same $10 refills. That's the way it should be everywhere. Bravo, Timber Rattlers.
The food was all around solid. It's hard to find a stadium hot dog that blows you away, so I don't want it to sound critical when I say their hot dogs were fine. Buns weren't toasty and rock hard, and the meat was good. There was a roasted nut stand along the 3rd base side which also had giant bags of popcorn, both of which were fresh and excellent snacking food. I tried two of their larger sandwiches, a philly cheesesteak and the "fowl pole." I really enjoyed both. For stadium food, both were relatively fresh. My favorite item, the loaded tot helmet. $5 for a good size portion of fresh tater tots, which can then be topped nacho style. It's a must try. Regrettably, they also have a loaded mac and cheese helmet option that I just did not have the tummy space for. Next Time!
Stadium experience was great. Even if you don't like baseball, there's a lot of attractions, between inning fun, and things to do. There's a well stocked gift shop right as you walk in. Just outside is a prize wheel, and for only $1 per spin, you can win baseball cards, signed photos, or my new pride an joy, an Udder Tuggers bobblehead. For the kids, there's a great playground and sand pit in the right field corner. Between innings, there's always something fun going on. My favorite is the brat gun, or a truck that comes around shooting Wisconsin brats into the stands.
It should be noted that the staff at Neuroscience Group Field is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. When things didn't go smoothly (like the construction in LF, credit card procession not working at the craft bar, or tater tots taking a few minutes to fry), they'd have fun with it and crack jokes. It fit in perfectly with a friendly small town in Wisconsin feel. This isn't New York, where everything has to be fast AND perfect. Take your time, and let's enjoy the ride. I'd rather be there than in New York City. I might be a goofy 35 year old attending a ballgame alone, and I may have been in line for the prize wheel with a bunch of kids, but the usher running the show shared my joy and laughter when I won that bobblehead.
Overall, I'm glad I got out to Appleton to check out the Timber Rattlers. Even if it's a Brewers affiliate playing a Cardinals affiliate, this Cubs fan had a great time. The stadium, amenities, price points, food, drink and experience made it worth the drive. It's a definite must see for baseball fans in Wisconsin, and I'd go even further to say that it's worth a visit from Chicago area fans as well. I get that not everyone enjoys minor league baseball as much as I do, but the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have a solid baseball experience that's just 4 hours away from Chicago. It's good to get out of the big city, slow down, and enjoy things a bit more. The Fox Cities is a great area, and the Timber Rattlers is one of their best attractions. Go check it out, because you won't be disappointed.