MILWAUKEE — Miller Park will have a new name in 2021 and it will have a decidedly local flavor.
American Family Insurance will replace Miller Brewing Company as the title sponsor of the Milwaukee Brewers' ballpark in a 15-year deal announced Tuesday afternoon during a news conference at the stadium.
"We were joking earlier that this is the biggest news since the Chorizo was added to the sausage race," American Family CEO Jack Salzwedel said. "This is a great deal for American Family. We appreciate the Brewers approaching us and we appreciate the way they were reasonable in our negotiations."
The agreement was a natural fit for the two iconic brands, with deep ties to the state, and was a next logical step for American Family, which has been growing its presence in the sports community and is also looking to establish a more profound presence in the Milwaukee market.
When news broke Tuesday that the Milwaukee Brewers are planning to rename Miller Park after the 2020 baseball season, fans on Twitter were qui…
The company first dipped its toe into sports marketing in 2014 when it aired a commercial featuring former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson during halftime of Super Bowl XLVIII — which just so happened to feature Wilson, by then the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback.
Wilson was the company's first "Dream Ambassador," a program that has since expanded to include Houston Texans' defensive lineman J.J. Watt, a Pewaukee native who also starred at UW, as well as former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and professional golfer Steve Stricker, a native of Edgerton and current Madison resident.
The relationship with Stricker also led to American Family's most prominent presence to date — the American Family Insurance Championship, a PGA Seniors Tour event held annually at University Ridge Golf Course.
American Family — a major employer in Dane County, with about 3,500 of its approximately 11,300 nationwide employees based in Madison — also has had a sponsorship presence at other UW events and facilities, as well as a gate at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
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Its deal with the Brewers, though, takes the company's presence to a new level.
"We've had a really long relationship (with the Brewers)," Salzwedel said. "The question of naming rights comes to us all the time from lots of different places across the United States, but this is right in our backyard. I was happy when (the Brewers) brought it up, and we jumped on the opportunity."
Aligning with the Brewers is the second major partnership for American Family in the Milwaukee area. The company also secured the naming rights to the newly-renovated amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds, which is expected to be complete in time for the 2020 music festival.
Both partnerships are part of American Family's plan to expand its presence in the Milwaukee market.
"We announced to our leadership group this morning that we've committed to a building in Downtown Milwaukee," Salzwedel said. "This is part of an overall strategy that includes a new building, jobs, the naming rights here, Summerfest ... our commitment to Milwaukee has never been stronger. We're looking forward to this next phase with the Milwaukee Brewers."
The Milwaukee Brewers' home ballpark will be renamed by American Family Insurance when MillerCoors' naming rights expire after the 2020 season…
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it runs for the remainder of the Brewers' original lease at the facility, including a series of team options that stretch beyond the 2030 season.
MillerCoors secured the original naming rights to the facility in March 1996, five months after the Miller Park Stadium Tax was approved by the state legislature and nine months before official groundbreaking for the facility. The company, located just a mile north of the stadium in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley, paid just over $40 million to put its name on the stadium and will remain a team partner moving forward, according to Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' chief operating officer.
"Miller has been a longtime partner of the Brewers, stretching back decades," Schlesinger said. "The relationship we have with Miller goes way beyond the naming rights. We appreciate the historical commitment of Miller to our city, our state and our team and we look forward to continuing our relationship for years to come.”
An official name, as well as a logo and other branding-related announcements, will be announced at a later date.