Sports in Milwaukee

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin is home to a variety of sports teams and events.

Professional[edit]

Milwaukee has a rich history of involvement in professional and sports, going back to the 19th century. Currently, its major sports teams include:

Club Sport Founded Current League Stadium
Milwaukee Brewers Baseball 1969 National League (MLB) Miller Park
Milwaukee Bucks Basketball 1968 National Basketball Association BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee Admirals Ice Hockey 1970 American Hockey League BMO Harris Bradley Center
Milwaukee Wave Indoor soccer 1984 Major Indoor Soccer League U.S. Cellular Arena

Throughout the sports world, Milwaukee is perhaps best known for its tradition of tailgating before Brewers baseball games.[1] The Brewers made their first post-season appearance in 1981 and won the American League pennant in 1982. In 1998, they became the first Major League team in modern history to switch leagues, doing so to accommodate the expansion franchises of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They also have the distinction of being the only team to have played in four of the six current Major League divisions.

The Bucks won the 1971 NBA Championship, a mere three years after joining the league. They made it back to the Finals in 1974, but soon developed a reputation as "next year's champions," winning at least one playoff series for the next 15 years, but having yet to return to the Finals.

The Wave are the longest continuously-running professional soccer operation in North America. They have also been one of the most successful, having captured five league championships in the past nine years.

An interesting note; the Milwaukee Admirals ice hockey club is a feeder team for the Nashville Predators, and Nashville's minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, is the farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers. Both the Admirals and Sounds are the top-level minor league affiliate.

Non-Professional[edit]

in addition to professional sports, Milwaukee is home to a number of competitive teams, clubs and leagues at the amateur, college, high school and semi-pro levels.

Collegiate[edit]

School Nickname Division Conference(s) Varsity Sports Teams
Marquette University Golden Eagles NCAA Division I Big East Conference 11
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

(Milwaukee)

Panthers NCAA Division I Horizon League 15
Milwaukee School of Engineering

(Milwaukee Engineering)

Red Raiders NCAA Division III Midwest Collegiate Hockey Conference,

Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference

19 [1]
Cardinal Stritch University Wolves NAIA Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference 10
Alverno College Inferno NCAA Division III Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference 5
Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors NCAA Division III Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference 14

Under the leadership of Al McGuire, Marquette's men's basketball team became a national powerhouse in the 1970s, capturing the NIT Championship in 1970, and the NCAA Championship in 1977. Not only was the '77 championship McGuire's last game, but Marquette remains the last independent school to win the title. It is also the last major sports championship won by a Milwaukee sports team.

Led by current NBA star Dwyane Wade, Marquette returned to the Final Four in 2003, but was ousted by Kansas in the semi-finals.

UW–Milwaukee made its first post-season appearance in men's basketball that same year, under the tutelage of current Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. Although they lost at the buzzer to Notre Dame in the first round, they would make their first NIT appearance the following year. In 2005, UWM had its most successful year ever, winning both the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships. They would go on to upset Alabama in the first round of the NCAA tournament before shocking then Big East powerhouse Boston College on its way to the Sweet 16. So much of an impression had the team made that sportswriters shied away from calling their defeat of sixth-seeded Oklahoma in the 2006 Tournament an "upset," believing UWM may have actually been the better team.

Starting with the 2007-08 season, the Marquette and UWM men's basketball teams will rekindle their annual rivalry game which has been dormant since 1998. The two schools have always shared annual and heated rivalries in all other common NCAA sports.

UWM's men's and women's soccer teams regularly attain national rankings, and the school is also home to the only Division I baseball team in Wisconsin.

High School[edit]

High School athletics in Milwaukee is dominated by the Milwaukee City Conference. However, it is also home to a number of athletically competitive private (mainly Catholic) high schools such as Marquette University High School, which has the city's only WIAA sanctioned ice hockey team.

While the City Conference schools are quite competitive in basketball, track & field and other sports with low costs of maintenance, it has been noted that the schools' collective lack of funds and facilities puts it at a distinct disadvantage in sports such as football.[2][3] Problems such as only four of the schools having on-campus stadiums are believed to be a major reason why City Conference schools have been absent from the WIAA State Championship Game since 1986 (a 28-20 Bradley Tech loss to Manitowoc). As a result, many of the city's more talented prep football players either attend private schools on scholarships and vouchers, or suburban schools through school choice programs such as Chapter 220.

The City Conference is considered to be the toughest league in Wisconsin for boy's basketball. Its teams have appeared in 21 of the past 24 WIAA Division 1 Championship Games, winning the title in 14 of them.

City Conference Alumni include Michael Bennett (Football, Track & Field/Bradley Tech), "Downtown" Freddie Brown (Basketball/Lincoln), Terry Porter (Basketball/South Division) and Latrell Sprewell (Basketball/Washington).

Amateur/Semi-professional[edit]

Club Sport Founded Current League Stadium
Milwaukee Bavarians Soccer 1929 National Premier Soccer League Bavarian Soccer Club
Milwaukee Bombers Australian Rules Football 1994 Mid American Australian Football League Brown Deer Park

The Milwaukee Bavarians/Bavarian Soccer Club is one of the oldest and most successful amateur soccer clubs in the United States, having captured the National Amateur Cup on two occasions. They play at the fourth level of the American Soccer Pyramid.

Other[edit]

Auto Racing[edit]

The Milwaukee suburb of West Allis is home to the Milwaukee Mile auto racing facility, the world's oldest active auto race track, located on the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. The track has held events sanctioned by major sanctioning bodies, such as the American Automobile Association, USAC, NASCAR, Champ Car World Series (or CART), and the Indy Racing League.

Speed-Skating[edit]

Milwaukee is also home to the Pettit National Ice Center, a U.S. Olympic Team training facility, which has been the training site for gold-medal winning speedskaters such as Dan Jansen, Bonnie Blair and Shani Davis.

Pro Wrestling[edit]

Milwaukee was a stronghold of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) during pro wrestling's territorial days. Shows run from The MECCA (Auditorium and Arena) drew large crowds of people who came to see the tag team of former Green Bay Packers lineman Dick "The Bruiser" Afflis and South Milwaukee native Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski.

Vince McMahon's WWF (later known as World Wrestling Entertainment; now known as WWE) began running shows from The MECCA in the late 1980s leading to Milwaukee being home to some important moments in that promotion's history. Most famously, it is the birthplace of "Stone Cold Steve Austin's "Austin 3:16" catchphrase.[4]

WWE continues to run shows (including pay-per-views) in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center. Insane Championship Wrestling, a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, also runs shows at smaller venues in the city, usually once a month.

Roller Derby[edit]

A recent addition to Milwaukee's sports scene is Women's Roller Derby. Since 2005 Milwaukee has been home to the Brew City Bruisers,[2] a Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Roller Derby league. The league has four skater-owned and operated teams: Crazy Eights, Maiden Milwaukee, Rushin' Rollettes, and Shevil Knevils. The teams compete in events locally at the US Cellular Arena, and the BCB's Travel Team competes in national league events throughout the United States.

Running[edit]

Milwaukee is home to a variety of competitive road running events. The largest is Al's Run, an annual fund-raiser for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin run in honor of Al McGuire. The race draws large numbers of the participants, regularly exceeding 15,000. [5]

The city is also the finishing point for the Lakefront Marathon, which begins in Grafton, Wisconsin and is run along Lake Michigan until the finish at Milwaukee's Veterans Park. The Guinness World Record for “most people linked together to complete a marathon” with 62 roped-together runners, was set at Milwaukee’s 2011 Lakefront Marathon. Team Jennipede competed on behalf of elite marathoner Jenny Crain, raising over $116,000 for Crain’s rehabilitation from injuries suffered when a car hit her during a training run in Milwaukee street on Aug. 27, 2007.[3]

In addition, many paths have been paved in recent years for runners and joggers in the city's parks along Lake Michigan as well as the Hank Aaron State Trail, adjacent to Miller Park in the Menomonee Valley.

Past teams[edit]

Previously, numerous other teams have played in Milwaukee, including:

Club Sport Played from League Stadium
Cream Citys Baseball 1878 National League
Milwaukee Unions Baseball 1884 Union Association
Milwaukee Brewers Baseball 1888–1901 Western League/American League Lloyd Street Grounds
Milwaukee Brewers (1891) Baseball 1891 American Association (19th century)
Milwaukee Brewers Baseball 1902–1952 American Association Borchert Field
Milwaukee Badgers Football 1922–1926 NFL
Milwaukee Bears Baseball 1923 Negro National League Borchert Field
Milwaukee Chiefs Football 1940–1941 American Football League Dairy Bowl
Milwaukee Hawks Basketball 1951–1955 NBA Milwaukee Arena
Milwaukee Chiefs Ice hockey 1952–1954 International Hockey League
Milwaukee Braves Baseball 1953–1965 MLB Milwaukee County Stadium
Milwaukee Does Basketball 1978–1980 WBL MECCA Arena (now U.S. Cellular Arena)
Milwaukee Mustangs (1994-2001) Arena football 1994–2001 Arena Football League Bradley Center
Milwaukee Rampage Soccer 1994–2002 USL First Division
Milwaukee Wave United Soccer 2003–2004 USL First Division
Milwaukee Bonecrushers Arena Football 2008-2009 Continental Indoor Football League U.S. Cellular Arena

The early 20th century Milwaukee Brewers's time in the American League predates the league's evolution into a major league, going back to the 19th century to its predecessors, the Western Association and Western League. The minor league Milwaukee Brewers was not directly connected to the older team. In fact, there was concern at the time about the prospect of both teams simultaneously playing in 1901 or 1902. It should also be noted that the 19th century baseball teams in Milwaukee were interchangeably referred to as the Cream Citys, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Greys or Milwaukee Unions.[6] This was common during the time as most teams did not have official names and rather adopted names which reporters assigned to them. The table lists the most common name used for each particular team.

The Milwaukee Braves won the National League pennant in 1957 and 1958, and won the World Series in 1957.

Milwaukee is the only major-league city that was never home to a North American Soccer League franchise. However, Milwaukee County Stadium was host to a number of exhibition games of the Chicago Sting, which had planned a permanent move (that never materialized) to the ballpark.[7]. The city has since proven itself to be a viable soccer market, as the Wave were founded in 1984 (the same year the NASL folded) and have been active ever since.

Green Bay Packers in Milwaukee[edit]

The Green Bay Packers played a portion of their home schedule in Milwaukee on a regular basis from the 1930s until 1994 in the following locations:

The first Milwaukee game was played on December 3, 1922, against the Racine Legion. The 1939 Championship between the Packers and the New York Giants was played at State Fair Park in what is currently known as the Milwaukee Mile. The Packers won, 27-0. A 1931 championship against the Portsmouth Spartans was also scheduled for Milwaukee, but was called off. The Packers final post-season game in Milwaukee was a 1967 divisional playoff against the Los Angeles Rams which the Packers won convincingly 28-7.[8] They went on to capture their last NFL Championship and Super Bowl victory under Vince Lombardi.

The Packers played their final game at County Stadium on December 18, 1994, against the Atlanta Falcons. Although the Packers no longer play in Milwaukee, many residents still consider them a Milwaukee team, held in higher regard than the Bucks and Brewers. In spite of no longer playing games in the city, the Packers flagship newspaper and radio have remained the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee-based WTMJ-AM, respectively.

The Packers maintain two separate season ticket plans, reflecting their time spent in Milwaukee: Gold package holders, made up largely of former Milwaukee season ticket holders, have a three-game package consisting of the annual Midwest Shrine preseason contest plus the second and fifth regular-season home games each year; Green package holders (made up of original Green Bay ticket holders) attend the annual Bishop's Charities preseason game and the remaining six regular-season contests.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lowry, Philip J. (1986). Green Cathedrals. Society for American Baseball Research. ISBN 0-910137-21-8. "They have the best bratwurst and the best tailgate parties in all of baseball here." 
  2. ^ BCB website
  3. ^ Held, Tom. "It's official. Team running for Jenny Crain secures Guinness Record in Lakefront Marathon".