When the Madison Mallards gave the Duck Pond at Warner Park a major overhaul for the 2011 season, I noticed during my first post-renovation outing to the ballpark that the row of original seats from Milwaukee County Stadium had been removed from behind home plate. Sacrilege, I thought.
Those coveted seats were replaced by turn-of-the-century-style ones taken out of Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, during renovations to that ballpark. (Old Wrigley Field seats, by the way, are located in the TDS Triple Play Club, down the left field line.)
When Mallards president Vern Stenman told me a few weeks ago that the County Stadium seats found a safe home at the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters’ Witter Field (that’s another Northwoods League team operated by Stenman), I felt better.
“If we could have put County Stadium seats in the entire Duck Pond, we would have,” he says, explaining that he couldn’t get his hands on enough of them.
The Mallards have a thing for recycling. This is a team that in 2012 was honored by the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin with an Outstanding Achievement in Recycling award for its extensive efforts to incorporate reused materials into the Duck Pond’s renovation.
The Sports Impressions Team Green Store was built using almost 100% recycled materials from the old stadium, which opened in 1982 (before the Mallards arrived in 2001, it served as home to the Madison Muskies, Madison Hatters and Madison Black Wolf). The store’s wood framing consists of planks from the original seating area, and the building is sided with old aluminum bleacher seats. Even the clothes racks were created from old stadium chairs.
The Mallards also added the TRICOR/West Bend Club behind home plate, constructed with steel from the original stadium grandstand roof. The wood deck consists of planks from the original seating structure, and drink rails use the original stadium’s aluminum bleacher tops.
“We wanted to retain the history of the ballpark as much as we could,” says Tyler Isham, the Mallards’ general manager.
“It was a very atypical way of using materials,” Stenman adds of the project.
Since the renovation, the Mallards have continued sustainability efforts in simpler and subtler ways. “Anywhere there’s a garbage can, there’s a recycling receptacle right next to it,” Isham says.
And reminders of the team’s reuse sensibilities can be seen all over the ballpark — from the faded seat numbers on the team store’s siding to the longtime tradition of serving a free hot dog in exchange for returning a foul ball.
The Mallards home opener is May 26 against the Kalamazoo Growlers.