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Raising the roof on case for a stadium built of bricks; ARCHITECT LEFT SKETCH ON WALL OUTSIDE THE CAVERN In the second part of three CHRIS BEESLEY focuses on Miller Park, designed by architect Dan Meis and implications for new Blues' home.


CONTINUING our look at Everton stadium architect Dan Meis' previous works, the ECHO examines what leading US sports writers think about his existing projects ahead of his design for Bramley Moore Dock.

Here's the second of our three case studies.

Part Two NAME: Miller Park LOCATION: Milwaukee, Wisconsin CAPACITY: 41,900 TEAM: Milwaukee Brewers (Baseball) OPENED: April 6, 2001 (broke ground November 9, 1996) CONSTRUCTION cost: $400million (approximately PS311million) Bricking it IT'S usually a wise move to build your house out of bricks - just ask the Three Little Pigs - but are Everton going down that route with their new stadium? There has been much speculation that the Blues future home at Bramley Moore Dock could feature a brick exterior - it would certainly match the surrounding architecture with nearby Stanley Dock warehouse one of the largest brick buildings in the world - and eager fans have been searching for potential clues as they hang off Dan Meis' every word.

On his most recent visit to Liverpool last month for the club's end of season awards 'The Dixies', the US architect visited the world-famous Cavern Club (well the replica that now attracts tourists to Mathew Street) and Tweeted: "PS... I left a sketch on one of the bricks" which some supporters took as a hint regarding the building material for the Blues new home.

Whether or not Everton take the plunge for brick, it's a look that Meis has gone in for before with Miller Park, the home of Major League baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Tom Haudricourt is Brewers writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and explained the look that Meis produced for the baseball team's Miller Park.

He said: "They did a brick exterior that first of all matched the local architecture but also when you look at the ballpark from the outside from behind home plate it looks a little bit like the old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play, so they tried to give it something of an old-time feel.

"It has a brick clock tower at the front - a sort of miniature Big Ben if you will. It's very large scale though because to put a retractable roof on a stadium it has to be a big place.

"They had the challenge of building it right next door to the old stadium and not disturb things while games were still being played there and the walls almost touched.

"Any ballpark that you put a roof on though is going to look modern because old stadiums didn't have roofs but they did the best they could and it's actually an attractive facility."

A big cover up Yes, you read that correctly - just like with the aforementioned Little Pigs, this brick house has a roof - a retractable one.

Although it's likely to get a bit chilly by the Mersey in winter, don't expect Everton to follow suit but as Haudricourt explains, the option to switch between indoors and outdoors was seen as a must in Milwaukee.

He said: "It can be very cold and wet, particularly early and late on in the season.

"The previous facility, Milwaukee County Stadium, was an open-air multi-purpose stadium built in the 1950s.

"We played some chilling baseball games in that stadium when it was brutally cold and it held attendances down quite often.

"To make the new ballpark, Miller Park, profitable they needed some good attendance figures.

"If you look at a map where Milwaukee is situated, it's 90 miles north of Chicago.

"So to the south you have the Chicago markets [there are two Major League baseball clubs in the city - the Cubs and White Sox] and you're not going to draw fans from there.

"To the east is Lake Michigan so geographically you're penned in by a great body of water and then to the north and west there are a lot of rural areas and farmland."

Haudricourt added: "The Brewers have always been dependent on fans coming across the state, sometimes getting on buses for a few hours to get to the ballpark, and the last thing they wanted to do is come if they thought the weather was going to be bad.

"They didn't want to come all that way and sit in miserable conditions or have the game rained out.

"To his credit, the Brewers' former owner Bud Selig, who later became Commissioner of Baseball, was not willing to entertain any thoughts of building a ballpark without a retractable roof.

"They wanted a retractable roof rather than a permanent roof because the summers are quite nice here.

"A lot of people come to Wisconsin for the summer. If you come from a southern state that is hot and sticky, here it's mild and comfortable."

Turning up the heat Here's the big question though...

Anyone who has ever lived with a partner who sticks the central heating on in June will want to know - who decides when to cover up? Haudricourt explains: "The baseball season begins in April and prior to this year there had been 200 home games in that month at Miller Park since it opened in 2001 and the roof had only been opened 22 times.

"To be honest we've become kind of wimpish. We used to beg for any day over 50 degrees (10 Celsius) early in the year and we were happy as long as it was dry but now if it's not over 60 (16 Celsius) they will not keep the roof open.

"We have become creatures of comfort. There's not really a heating or cooling system per se within the ballpark but they can warm it up or cool it down to some extent with a hot air/cold air flow."

Milwaukee's roof has a unique shape but that isn't without its problems though.

Haudricourt said: "This was the first roof of its kind where it is designed like this in a fan shape. It opens from the middle and three panels go to one side and two panels to the other side from a pivot by home plate.

"There are also outdoor panels that open on the walls that create even more open space on a nice day and you can get a breeze in there.

"If you look at most of the stadium roofs that I know of in North America, the panels stack on top of each other in a linear fashion - they all go in the same direction - and when you have stacking panels the edges sort of overlap each other when they close, but in this radial roof they come side to side and do not overlap and have rubber gaskets on the areas that come together to try and keep the Lincoln Philadelphia Blues three tomorrow's ECHO rain out.

"However, in heavy winds and storms it has been known to leak in certain places. Compared to what's going on outside in these conditions it's a minor inconvenience - but not if you have a seat under one of the leaks."

Building tragedy The issues of being dripped upon from above were also put into perspective by a tragedy that took place during the building of the stadium.

Haudricourt said: "There was a tragedy during the building. A crane collapsed and it killed three workers and destroyed a lot of the stadium that had already been built and pushed back the opening by a year.

"Unfortunately our memories of the actual construction of the ballpark are very clouded by that terrible incident.

Field in "It was a devastating accident for the community and they have statues for the iron workers who were killed outside of the ballpark. "Something good grew out of it. It's been a very wellreceived stadium, part - See attendances have been tremendous. Probably every sports writer has a bias towards their own stadium but I think one of the better ones we go to is our own stadium."

Packing them in Meis' design, though, has consistently proved a winner with the Wisconsin public who continue to turn out in good numbers to the ballpark he designed.

Haudricourt said: "Milwaukee is the smallest market out of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in terms of radio, television and population but the Brewers consistently rate in the middle of the pack for attendance.

"When they've had good teams they've drawn as many as three million fans (aggregate over an 81-home game season), a tremendous attendance.

"The last few years they've not been as good and most recently they drew 2.3 million but by comparison, the Cleveland Indians - who are also in the Upper Mid-West but don't have a roof - went to the World Series last season but didn't even draw two million.

"We're 16 years in now and it's still a very nice ballpark."

this the and for Lincoln Field in Philadelphia Blues stadium, part three - See tomorrow's ECHO


Supporters arriving at Miller Park NATHAN DANIEL

A packed crowd inside Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club JONATHAN DANIEL

Tom Haudricourt
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:1U3WI
Date:Jun 6, 2017
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