The Brewers on Thursday began the most costly project at Miller Park in eight years, when a construction crew removed a 15,000-pound sign bearing the ballpark’s name. It was a dramatic first step in the offseason-long job of replacing Miller Park’s scoreboard system.
All told, the scoreboard project will cost the Miller Park Stadium District and the team more than $10 million.
“This is the first step in what is obviously a major project,” Brewers executive vice president of business operations Rick Schlesinger said. “It’s nice to see it went off smoothly.”
Crews will spend the next four weeks dismantling the old video board, matrix board and surrounding structure before installing a new, state-of-the-art, 5,940 sq. ft. scoreboard. Installation is expected to span eight weeks, leaving the Brewers about a month to test the new system before 2011 Opening Day.
A new “Miller Park” sign will be built-in to the new scoreboard, so the 15-foot by 75-foot existing sign had to go. It had towered over center field since the turnstiles started spinning in 2001, and the Brewers have yet to decide what to do with it.
A crew from Mortenson Construction had been preparing for the project all week, and just before noon CT on Thursday, the sign was on the move. A crane lifted it up and over the center field roof track and set it down in the players’ parking lot, where the sign will remain until Brewers officials decide what to do with it.
The Brewers and the stadium district have not undertaken a project on this scale since major roof repairs were needed after the 2002 season. The new scoreboard will feature a true 1080 high definition display and, at nearly 6,000 sq. ft., will be the fourth-largest in Major League Baseball, about 40 sq. ft. larger than the scoreboard at new Yankee Stadium.
The Brewers had originally intended to replace the scoreboard system prior to last season, but plans were pushed back a year.
“The existing scoreboard was designed in the late 1990s and it’s celebrating its 10th birthday,” Schlesinger said. “The technology to service the board is obsolete, and the board itself, as folks probably saw this year, was starting to run into some trouble.”
The other major offseason project at Miller Park this winter is a remodel of the stadium’s founders suites on the field level.
Thanks to photographer Scott Paulus for the dramatic shots from atop Miller Park’s roof rail. Here are some more:
Shaun Scott (above) and Ray Risch (below, left) of Mortenson Construction prepare to lower the Miller Park sign by first removing a service beam used by maintenance teams to service the sign. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)