Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Warner Park 1625 Northport Dr Madison, WI 53704
Year Opened: 1982
Welcome to the Duck Pond
The Madison Mallards have been providing their brand of baseball fun since 2001. The club has continuously led all summer collegiate baseball in average attendance figures and has upgraded its home ballpark Warner Field to improve the game day atmosphere. The venue, dubbed The Duck Pond, has become a destination for fans in Madison.
Warner Park was built in 1982 for the Oakland A’s Class-A affiliate Madison Muskies. The team never averaged more than 2,000 fans a game but began to slide from 1987-1993. The following year Madison Hatters debuted by relocating after the season. The independent Madison Black Wolf came to call the park home from 1996-2000.
The Mallards began operations in 2001 and have never looked back, with attendance records hovering over 6,000 fans per game. The team has also added various renovations that have included The Duck Blind in right field, The Backyard seating behind the left field, a souvenir shop, new concession stands, seating from Baltimore’s Camden Yards, and a VIP deck behind home plate.
Food & Beverage 5
The Duck Pond has plenty of food and beverages to wet any fan’s whistle at the game. The main concession stands are located beyond the home plate grandstand and with a specialty price ticket in The Duck Blind.
The Festival Food Grill stands are directly behind the grandstand and feature hot dogs, burgers, brats, cheese curds, and specialty brats. The Stellar burger is served on a cheese bun with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, charred jalapenos, and Carolina barbecue sauce. The specialty brat during our visit was a Jamaican jerk brat. There is also a black bean veggie burger offered at the concession stand.
A few feet away are three unique stands built out of truck containers: Let’s Get Fried, Dinger Donuts, and I’d Smoke That. The three concession stands are identifiable by their colorful neon signs. Dinger Donuts offers powdered mini donuts served in a novelty helmet with a choice of toppings.
Let’s Get Fried serves boneless chicken wings, cheese curds, fried chicken sandwiches, and fries. I’d Smoked That offers pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, half-rack of ribs, sides of mac and cheese, cornbread, cole slaw, and corn on the cob.
The beer selection includes 21 varieties of both macro and micro brews and can be found behind the main grandstand and in The Duck Blind. The macro beers include Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, Labatt Blue, Blue Moon, and Busch Light. The micro beers are from Potosi, One Barrel Brewing Company, O’so, Vintage, Elysian, Bell’s, and Blake Hard Cider.
Fans can order them by the pint, 32-ounce, or a 67-ounce Duck Foot Boot. Fans also enjoy BOGO on beers for an inning if the beer batter on the opposing team strikes out. Pepsi products are available for those who do not drink.
A Mallards game is advertised as a nine-inning vacation, and that begins in the left-field corner. Fans wait in line before the gates open and are greeted by the players and team mascot. They continue their walk towards the grandstand, passing by a kids’ play zone, concession stands, and local business table and tents.
The main grandstand is decked out with a covered press box, VIP seating area, table-top seating from Camden Yards, and protective netting from foul pole to foul pole. A little further down the left-field corner is the Duck Blind, where specially-priced tickets allow fans inclusive food and beverage options. The triple deck area also features private suites, rooftop seating, and a field-level area directly behind right field where fans enjoy the game from repurposed seating.
Behind the press box is an area where fans purchase food from the main concession areas with three new eateries: Dinger Donuts, I’d Smoked That, and Let’s Get Fried. You can purchase 21 drafts of beer from Short Hops next door.
Fans looking to take it a little bit easy on game night can enjoy the game from the expanded grass seating area called The Backyard. The seats are near the scoreboard, lit up in green, and offer access to the ballpark for food and drink.
Warner Park is on the northeast side of town near Lake Mendota. It is inside a community park and across the street from a strip mall and Beef Butter BBQ. There are a few regional and national chain restaurants within a few miles of the ballpark.
Downtown Madison is 5 miles south. Visitors can walk up and down State Street, a pedestrian-only sidewalk, and enjoy a few local college hangouts and small restaurants. State Street Brats is a popular location, and at certain times of the day, you can flip a coin to determine the price of your beer.
Just a block away is the Memorial Union sightseers sit along Lake Mendota and watch the sunset along benches, colorful chairs, and from the various piers. There are small food stands selling food and drink to enjoy the sunset in the distance across the lake. It is recommended to relish this summertime tradition in Madison.
Visitors can bike and enjoy walking trails around the lake or hop on a kayak or boat during the warm summer months. The Capitol Observation Deck offers fantastic views of the lake and the city. The Madison Night Market showcases handmade products, gifts, and live music. Maxwell Street Days is a street festival in July offering sidewalk sales.
Madison Forward FC plays their home matches at Breese-Stevens Field just north of downtown to frenzy crowds in the historic venue. The USL League One season overlaps the Mallards season from June through August.
The Mallards fans are among the best in all of baseball. They continue to pack the Duck Pond with 6,000-plus or more fans each game. The fan's dedication is observed, with many tailgating in the parking lot before the game and several more waiting in line to be the first to walk through the gates.
Warner Park was constructed when there was nothing much but the metal grandstand. The Mallards have built around it and have freed up much-needed space behind the main concession area. There are two entrances at both ends of right and left field, a middle concourse in the seating bowl, and plenty of signage to direct fans to their seats and other sections of the ballpark.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices to Mallards games are very affordable. The lowest price tickets in section 608, or only $6.08. Ticket prices increase to $10 for seating in the backyard, $13 for terrace seating, $15 for dugout seats, and $18 for scout seats. Duck Blind tickets are $26 or $38 from Sunday to Wednesday and $38 and $45 from Thursday to Saturday, depending on whether you're drinking beer or soda.
There is no charge for parking, concession prices are somewhat affordable, and souvenir prices are in line with minor league clubs across the country. The team offers promotional nights from Bark on the Park Wednesdays to Mark in the Park, where anyone named Mark can participate in a pre-game parade. Click the link for more information.
The Duck Blind might have been the first all-you-can-eat-and-drink section in baseball. It is now common throughout the game, but the party section in the right field corner is still impressive with its brat of the game and selection of local craft beer.
Players greet fans at the main entrance in the left-field corner of the ballpark. Fans then enjoy a stroll down a carnival-like trail filled with mascots, tents, a kids' play area, and local businesses hocking prizes. This is how you should greet your fans.
The Mallards have taken an old erector set of a ballpark discarded by the minor and independent leagues and turned it into the place to be for the summertime in Madison. The Ducks have added many touches: neon signs for concession stands, a refurbished souvenir shop, and various spots to enjoy the game.
The staff is welcoming, friendly, and accommodating. If there are questions, a Mallards representative is not far away. Also, they will be on the lookout for anyone who has trouble finding a seat or looking for a specific spot.
The Madison Mallards might be the OG's of packing in exciting crowds in summer collegiate baseball. Before the Savannah Bananas brought record numbers to their ballpark, the Mallards were among the leaders in baseball in average attendance numbers at Warner Park. This last trip did not disappoint, and The Pond is still one of the best experiences a fan can have in not just the Northwoods League but all of baseball during the summer months.