Last week, news leaked that Cubs and Brewers officials were involved in serious discussions two years ago regarding the possibility of Chicago playing all of its 2015 home games at Miller Park. The temporary relocation was explored as a means of taking more than a year off the projected four-year timetable for Wrigley Field’s ongoing (and decades overdue) renovations. The Cubs ultimately decided to play through the construction and stay in Chicago, but it’s cool imagining a year in which Milwaukee had two division rivals playing under the same retractable roof, and where there would be a game at Miller Park almost every night of the summer. Though Milwaukee traffic would’ve been exponentially more infuriating with the heightened influx of FIBs, sales of Old Style and fluorescent green relish would go through the roof, the already alarming level of Cubs fan representation in town would only get worse, this would’ve been a great thing for Milwaukee.
Think of all the tourism dollars, additional Miller park jobs, and opportunities to tailgate/openly root against the Cubs that this mini-move would’ve brought Milwaukee. Though the summer of the Milwaukee Cubs won’t be a reality in 2015, such a development could absolutely happen at some point. Major League Baseball forced the 2003 Montreal Expos to play 23 home games in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Katrina caused the New Orleans Saints to split their 2005 home games between New York, Baton Rouge, and San Antonio. A variety of other weather-related, financial, stadium-specific or marketing-oriented factors have spawned countless other pro sports teams to play “home” games in an unfamiliar facility in a different city. It’s no surprise the Cubs considered Milwaukee to be its home away from home. After all, the city isn’t a stranger to letting teams based in other locations have the run of its stadiums and arenas. Here are five teams to temporarily call Milwaukee home.
1. Green Bay Packers (1934-1994)
We’d never insinuate Milwaukee’s unofficial home team is anyone but the Green Bay Packers. On select game days for 60 consecutive seasons, southeast Wisconsin technically was home to the Packers. Since City Stadium had very limited capacity and it made financial sense to occasionally play in larger Milwaukee-area venues, the Packers suited up a State Fair Park from 1934 to 1951, played a pair of games at Marquette Stadium, then played in the brand new Milwaukee County Stadium from 1953 until Brett Favre’s game-winning touchdown run against the Falcons in 1994. The twice-annual trip south on I-43 was partially done with the hope of the Packers permanently relocating to Milwaukee, which helped strong-arm Green Bay into building and continually renovating what became Lambeau Field. If we can’t have the Packers right here, a football Mecca being just a mildly inconvenient drive away is a good consolation prize.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (1988)
For anyone who has ever been to Admirals game or craned their neck close to 90 degrees from specific sections to see Bucks or Marquette games can attest that the Bradley Center is made for hockey. Though the donated arena will never be a permanent home to a full-fledged NHL franchise, the Bradley Center’s first event was actually an exhibition between the Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup champion (and recently Wayne Gretzky-less) Edmonton Oilers. Ironically, the proximity of the Hawks and the Chicago team’s popularity as the adopted hockey team of many a Wisconsinite make the odds to Milwaukee getting its own pro hockey team slim.
3. Cleveland Indians (2007)
Everybody in Wisconsin seems to know Milwaukee’s connection to legendary baseball flick Major League. Years later, the same city where the fictional Cleveland Indians filmed their home games also hosted three home games for the real life Tribe. Inclement April weather forced the Indians to postpone their first home series of the 2007 season and move the second series to the retractable roofed confines of Miller Park. The Milwaukee Indians took two of three games from the Angels, including the first of many Miller Park wins for a guy named C.C. Sabathia.
4. Houston Astros (2008)
Mother nature also intervened in forcing the temporary relocation of two Astros home games. As Houston prepared for Hurricane Ike, Milwaukee took in the ‘Stros for a pair of September games. Oddly enough, these “home games” were against the Cubs, who definitely reaped the benefits of the unorthodox arrangement. In front of more than 20,000 Chicago fans, Carlos Zambrano threw the the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 seasons and the first (and still only) no-no in Miller Park history against an Astros team that had flown into Milwaukee just two hours before game time. Then-Houston manager and former Brewers great Cecil Cooper was less-than-thrilled about his return to town, saying, “This is not a home game. This is definitely an advantage for the Cubs and that’s saying it as mildly as possible.” The Cubs also took the second game and, eventually, the division. Including the two-game Brew City occupation, the Astros would finish the season 6-8 and be overtaken for the Wild Card spot by the Brewers.
5. C.D. Guadalajara (2014)
To be fair, there actually was no “home team” for last summer’s Miller Park exhibition match between Mexican soccer club C.D. Guadalajara (aka “Chivas”) and Swansea City A.F.C. of the English Premier League. That said, it was reported that a staggering number of the more than 31,000 on hand for the stadium’s inaugural soccer match were there in support of Chivas. That turnout and level of excitement for a Wednesday night exhibition seems to suggest Milwaukee might be able to support an MLS franchise or, that failing, at least make an international soccer exhibition an annual Miller Park tradition. The match ended in a 1-1 tie, by the way. That’s soccer for you.