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  • Bart Wilhelm

Witter Field – Wisconsin Rapids Rafters


Photos by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Witter Athletic Field 521 Lincoln St Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494

Wisconsin Rapids Rafters website Witter Athletic Field website

Year Opened: 1928 Capacity: 1,588

 

Cranberry Country

Built in 1928, Witter Field in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin housed various minor league baseball teams from 1941-1983. When the Wisconsin Rapids Twins moved to Kenosha following the 1983 season, the park had a 17-year absence of anything above high school baseball. In 2010, the summer collegiate Northwoods League moved into town and the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters were born. The stadium got a fresh coat of cranberry-colored paint on the inside and 227 seats that were removed from Milwaukee County Stadium before its demolition.

Food & Beverage 5

There are plenty of food options at Witter Field for all tastes. Three different food stands are located from behind the home plate and down the third baseline.

The Triple Play Taqueria offers chicken, steak, pork, and classic tacos for $6.50 (for two tacos). They also have three flavors of boneless chicken wings ($5), various sandwiches such as a Rosco Philly, Smoked Pulled Chicken, or BBQ Pulled Pork ranging from $4.50-$6. The standard hamburger ($3.50), Hot Dog $2.75), and Bratwurst ($3.25) are also available. Side dishes include Skin-on French Fries or Mac-N-Cheese for $3.50. Desserts include Churro Bites or Funnel Cake for $4 with optional Strawberries and Whipped Cream or Chocolate and Caramel for $1 more.

Further down the line is a “snack barn” which has Loaded Nachos ($6), Pretzels with Cheese ($3.75), Pizza ($5), Breadsticks with Marinara ($4) and several more desserts such as Ice Cream ($2.50/$3) and various Sundaes for $4. Root Beer Floats are made with Point Root Beer, which is a local brewery in Stevens Point.

The third food stand is called “The Homestand” and is further down the third baseline. They sell a few items that are also available at other stands, but they also have a Black Bean Veggie Burger, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and a Chicken Salad Sandwich ($4-$5 each). This is also the place to get your Brew City Cheese Curds with Ranch ($6). Cheese curds are a statewide delicacy and one of my favorite things about visiting Wisconsin. Beer stands sell 16-ounce draft beers such as Budweiser, Bud Lite, Busch Light, and Point Special Lager for $4.50 or Stella Artois, Goose Island IPA, Golden Road Mango Cart, and a few local brews Point Drop Dead Blonde and Amber Lager, Hillsboro Leaping Lemur Cream Ale, Good Old Potosi Golden Ale, and Farm Girl Saison from Lift Bridge Brewery for $5.50. Non-alcoholic drinks include bottled Pepsi products, Gatorade, and Vita Ice, each for $3.50.

Atmosphere 4

Witter Field is an old stadium, and from the outside, it gives the appearance of a park that has probably seen better days. It has an old light-green paint job on the outside. Once inside, though, you can see that the park has been kept up well.

Renovations were made to the park in 1950 and again in 2010 when the Rafters moved in. The covered grandstand extends from dugout to dugout. There are 227 box seats which were formerly inside Milwaukee County Stadium. County Stadium was demolished in 2001 after the Milwaukee Brewers moved next door to Miller Park. Several rows of metal bleachers behind the box seats stay nice and dry even when a drizzle falls. An interactive accessible seating area is down the first base side. These seats come with wait service and pads for an interactive experience.

The highlight of the park, though, is the Point Craft River. For $31-$36, you can have access to the “River” area. All the beer you can drink until the 7th inning, and when you order a drink, they put it on a wooden “raft” and float it down the river to you. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth checking out.

The walls, jerseys, and the promo crew are all cranberry-colored. This is an homage to the fact that more than 60% of the nation’s cranberries are harvested within fifty miles of Wisconsin Rapids. The harvest is supposed to be something to see, but it’s in October, not during baseball season. The scoreboard in the right-center field is divided into two parts. The left side is a regular digital scoreboard, while the right half is a newer video board that gives names, pictures, and stats. Since my game was on “McCain Potato Night,” most of the in-between innings had potato themes to them. Bobbing for potatoes. Tossing potatoes into a bucket. Build a Mr. Potato Head. There was even a rubber potato giveaway at the gate.

Neighborhood 3

Witter Field is located in a fairly residential area. A junior high school is adjacent to the park. Beyond the outfield fence is a brand new community waterpark that just opened up in 2020.

Within a half-mile, food options include Dairy Queen, Taco John’s, and Grand Avenue Pub and Grille.

About a mile away from the stadium, you can see where the town of Wisconsin Rapids got its name. If you park at Mead Rapids View Park or Veterans Memorial Park, you can walk along the river and see the paper mills and the dams that cause the rapids. There are also plenty of bars/pubs in this area. The triangle block of First Street, Second Street, and E Jackson Street form what a bartender told me is called the “Beermuda Triangle.” Pretty much every business on that block is a bar. I opted for Jennings and Co. and had a delicious Reuben and a couple of bottles of New Glarus and Stevens Point beers.

Fans 3

With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, fans were limited to about 1/3 the normal capacity. That meant there were about 600 people at the ballpark. The fans seem to be into the game and cheer loudly at the appropriate times. Late in the game of this review, many made their way behind home plate to get photographs of the gorgeous full rainbow that we had for about 15 minutes.

Witter Field Rainbow, Photo by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey


Access 3

Wisconsin Rapids is about 20 minutes away from the nearest Interstate, I-39 (Plover Exit). I took US10 across from Appleton, about 75 minutes away on the mostly divided highway. Once you’re in the city, the physical address is 521 Lincoln St.

A parking lot on-site with no charge for parking. There is also plenty of street parking that is slightly further away in case you want to avoid having your car hit by a foul ball.

The only gate is directly behind home plate.

Return on Investment 3

There is a wide range of ticket prices from which to choose. Standing room only is $9. Reserved bleachers seats are $10. NWL Foundation Interactive Accessible Seating Area is $11. Reserved Box Seats are $16. And the Point Craft River Area is $31 for General Admission or $36 for a reserved seat. NOTE: ALL tickets are $2 more on game day. If you can buy them in advance, you should do so to avoid the extra charge (although internet orders often come with their fees). I opted for the bleacher seats and was not at all disappointed. In fact, because of the drizzle, I stayed nice and dry while the people in the box seats probably got a little wet. The food and beer prices are very reasonable, especially with how much variety there is, and I can’t stress this enough…you’re in Wisconsin, get the cheese curds.

Extras 4

The Point Craft River gets an extra point. While I didn’t get a ticket in the area, I did have a look at it and I’ve never seen anything like it at a ballpark.

Another point goes to the Wisconsin Rapids Baseball History exhibit. They have various old jerseys, baseballs, pictures, and other trinkets displaying the history of baseball in Wisconsin Rapids.

A third point goes to the Central Wisconsin Educator of the Year Wall of Fame Bobblehead display. It’s a plexiglass case that has bobbleheads of local Wisconsin Teachers of the Year. What a great idea.

A fourth point goes to the fact that I just loved the overall feel of Witter Field. Sometimes you just like a place without a specific reason why, and Witter Field is that for me. I’ll make a return trip.

Final Thoughts

A lot of older parks have gone the way of summer collegiate baseball in the past decade. Some of them show their age a little more than others. Witter Field is one that has kept up with the times and while it’s 92 years old, it doesn’t feel old and run down. Coupled with the fact that I enjoyed walking around the town itself, I would recommend a trip to Cranberry Country.

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