The first summer that I took my son to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game was 2013, and I haven’t shut up about it since. It’s an affordable, family-friendly day trip, and we try to go back every year.
For us, it means driving from Bay View to Appleton, but I’ve always said, even with the cost of gas, going to Timber Rattlers game is cheaper than going to a Brewers game. It’s not much more of a time commitment either. (To be clear, we love the Brewers too.) This year, I decided to crunch the numbers. I took my 5-year-old daughter to a game at Miller Park on a recent Sunday, and I took my 10-year-old son to a T-Rats game the following Sunday, all the while tracking my cost and time.
The weather for both games was 65 degrees and sunny. This is the work I do for you, Milwaukee Mom readers.
About the Timber Rattlers
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are a minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They play their home games in Appleton, at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, which seats 5,900. The Brewers’ other minor league teams are in faraway states like Texas, Mississippi, and North Carolina, but the T-Rats are just 100 miles up I-41.
A Timber Rattlers game is like a Brewers game but on a smaller scale. The stadium is one level, the concourse is less crowded, and the prices—tickets, parking, concessions, merchandise—are lower.
The outdoor play area includes inflatables, a playground, and a big sandbox. Between-inning entertainment features Cousins Racing Subs, T-shirt tosses, people dressed as giant buns trying to assemble themselves into burgers on the field, and the Bratzooka, a small cannon that fires actual bratwurst into the crowd.
Another cool thing: Because the T-Rats are affiliated with Brewers, a guy you’re watching in Appleton today could be playing at Miller Park in a few years. In 2013, we were wowed by 18-year-old Orlando Arcia, who’s now the Brewers shortstop. This summer, we saw 2018 first-round draft pick Brice Turang collect four hits.
Brewers vs. Timber Rattlers: Time
Let’s start with this: At the Brewers game, it took us 35 minutes to get from our parking spot to our seats. That included a long, disgusting stop at a Porta-Potty. At the T-Rats game, the time from our parking spot to our seats: just under six minutes. To the parents who still have to carry their kids everywhere, let that sink in.
And then there are the lines. Going to a Brewers game means waiting in line in the parking lot, at the entrance, outside the bathroom. Our trip to Miller Park was on dollar hot dog day, and I counted 90 people in line at one of the concession stands. Waiting in line sucks no matter what, but waiting in line with a 5-year-old is actually one of Dante’s circles of hell. At the Timber Rattlers game, the most time we spent in a line was three minutes. Three. Stinkin’. Minutes.
The total time from start to finish for the Brewers game was just under five hours. For the T-Rats, just over seven hours. That included driving there, waiting to get to our parking spot, tailgating, the game, and the ride home. We left both games after the sixth inning, because the kids were done and we wanted to beat traffic. And remember, we’re coming from Bay View. You Tosa people are 15-20 minutes closer to Appleton.
Brewers vs. Timber Rattlers: Money
There are always ticket deals, but for the purposes of this project, I paid the regular online price, which included fees. I did get an online discount on preferred parking, which I gladly took. At the Brewers game, we sat in section 432. At the Timber Rattlers, we sat right behind home plate.
Here are all of the prices (for one adult and one child):
In-game snacks: $26
Gas: $2 roundtrip
Play area: free
In-game snacks: $14.50
Gas: $22 roundtrip
Play area: $1
Total time: about five hours for the Brewers vs. about seven hours for the Timber Rattlers.
Total cost: $104.50 for the Brewers vs. $83.30 for the Timber Rattlers.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally written before the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please check social distancing and other public health guidelines from the CDC and your local health authority before making any plans and read the disclaimer on the ticket back.