MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio offered a reminder that negotiations were still in the “early innings” as he discussed legislation on financing renovations to American Family Field.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issued a proposal this year to spend $290 million on repairs to American Family Field under an agreement in which the Brewers would extend their lease by 13 years, through 2043.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last month the proposal was likely dead in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Vos expressed optimism that Republicans could come up with a better deal that would require a longer commitment for the Brewers to stay in Milwaukee.
“I think the fans deserve a facility like this and I think one of the reasons they come out is the ballpark experience,” Attanasio said Monday before the Brewers’ home opener with the New York Mets. “So we really just want to continue to maintain that. And look, I want the team to be here forever. So, we want this to be forever a special place.”
The Brewers’ lease expires in 2030. American Family Field has been the Brewers’ home stadium since 2001, when it was known as Miller Park.
“Other stadiums of similar vintage, they’re talking about needing brand-new ballparks, and here we just want to continue to maintain this,” Attanasio said. “So, we’ll see. It’s early innings, and I guess there’s a lot of baseball to be played. I don’t know if we got off to as good a start as we got off to this weekend in Chicago, but we’re off to a pretty good start.”
The Brewers opened their season by winning two of three games from the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Attanasio also addressed the contract status of 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, two-time All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff and shortstop Willy Adames, who has been selected team MVP by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America each of the last two seasons.
All three players have one more year of arbitration eligibility before they could become free agents at the end of the 2024 season.
“I’m always eternally optimistic,” Attanasio said. “I also recognize that the three of them are about as good as you can get in the sport at their positions. And so there’s the challenge of what those contracts would be. They’d be deservedly significant, and we’ll just take it, it’s pretty much a season at a time now because most guys don’t want to talk in season. We’ll see what the season and the offseason bring.”
They’re not the only notable Brewers facing uncertain futures. Craig Counsell, the NL’s longest-tenured active manager, has a contract set to expire after this season. Counsell has one son playing college baseball at Minnesota and another who has committed to play at Michigan next season.
Attanasio said that “we’d love to keep him here, obviously.”
“He’s had a couple World Series rings (as a player), got now two sons going to play college baseball, you’d always imagine you’d be watching them play,” Attanasio said. “They’re only going to be playing college baseball once.
“So on the other side of things, he’s really enjoying what he does here. And he is, as you know, very impactful. I think back to when I first talked to Craig about doing this in 2015. He said the only thing he felt he had left to do in baseball was bring a World Series to Milwaukee. And so that’s still a goal of his, so we’ll see how he balances all of that.”
Attanasio spoke to Brewers beat reporters for the first time since the team sent four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres at last year’s trade deadline.
The Brewers were leading the NL Central at the time of the trade but staggered afterward and finished seven games behind St. Louis and one game out of the NL’s final wild-card spot, snapping a franchise-record string of four straight playoff appearances.
“There was a lot of commentary last year about the Hader trade, which we all know,” Attanasio said. “But what was missed in the commentary is we’re desperately trying to compete for a long period of time. And so we stumbled last season with that trade, but now we have (catcher) William Contreras here. Things like that show the confidence I have in our baseball ops group to keep finding that next guy.”
The Brewers acquired Contreras – a 2022 All-Star – from Atlanta as part of the multi-team trade that enabled the Braves to land catcher Sean Murphy from Oakland.