THE BUZZ: Young adults and the Chucks

Latest renovations at Athletic Park cater to the Millennial crowd for a new, more social experience

Renovations this year at Athletic Park aren’t as extensive as the previous rounds. After all, that was millions of dollars of work to transform the park into an entirely new venue, bringing families back to the ballpark and turning it into a great experience well beyond just seeing a baseball game.


Renderings of The Bullpen: Fans pay a fee for all-you-can-eat food and drinks plus three beer tickets. Previous ballpark improvements helped bring families and the corporate crowd back to the ballpark; the Bullpen aims to attract the 20- and 30-something crowd.

But that doesn’t make The Bullpen, what they’re calling the newest area, any less exciting or important. After bringing in families, Wisconsin Woodchucks team owner Mark Macdonald wanted to focus on improvements that would attract the Millennial generation—young adults roughly in the 21-35 age group. “These are the fans that, maybe they aren’t going to watch every pitch,” Macdonald says. “They might be more interested in coming to Athletic Park to socialize. This embraces that idea for young people or anyone looking for a place to meet up and have some food and drinks, and catch up in a relatively social environment.”

The Bullpen along the first baseline features a redeveloped concession stand and Leinie’s Lodge, adding a pergola roof, and table seating. The area includes a ping-pong table, bean bag toss and foosball. Bullpen tickets cost $25 and include food, drink and beer, with reservable tables. Renovating the 6,500-square foot area cost about $100,000, Macdonald says, and will be complete in time for the 2017 home opener May 31.

The Bullpen is the latest of several renovations under Macdonald’s watch. Since he bought the minor league team in 2012, he has invested roughly $7 million into ballpark improvements to make Athletic Park more fan-friendly. A former investment banker in Los Angeles, Macdonald has a passion for baseball and wanted to buy a community team in Wisconsin. Most of the changes have given fans more options for seating, food service, socializing space, and party areas.

Macdonald says The Bullpen will do for Millennials what the pavilion park and playground just outside the stadium gates did for children. “It’s not targeted solely at Millennials, but it’s something they could grab hold of,” Macdonald says.

Vino Latte getting set to move

Vino Latte’s longtime, original Wausau location on Grand Avenue will close this summer and relocate to a spot on Wausau’s west side, near Menard’s.

Owner Loreen Glaman bought the building at 3309 Terrace Court and will remodel it over the next several months in preparation for the move. The current Wausau location, 700 Grand Ave., at the Thomas Street intersection, will remain open until then. With more than 4,000 square feet, the new location will have more than double the space of the Grand Avenue café and even more than Vino Latte’s two-story Weston location, Glaman says.

The café on Grand Avenue was called Café Le Grand when Glaman took over in 2003. She rented the space from the city with the understanding that her business would eventually move: The city-owned building was to be torn down after a few years for the Thomas Street project and reconstruction of that intersection. Instead, the street project experienced delay after delay, the building remains standing, but Glaman still wanted to grow the business. In 2011, she changed the name to Vino Latte, which reflected the wine part of the business, and opened the Weston location in 2014.

The variety of seating spaces at Weston Vino Latte is a good indication of what to expect at the new Wausau Vino Latte, Glaman says. Popular amenities such as evening pizza and large meeting space weren’t possible at the Grand Avenue spot because of space constraints. Glaman hopes to open the new Wausau location by June.