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August 21, 2005

On Miller Day, Bon Jovi's livin' on a beer

Concert marks brewery's 150th

It's Miller Time at Miller Park.

For today there will be no home team and no baseball at all. Instead, there will be a party on the infield, a popular band performing in the outfield - and all 35,000 tickets to the show will have been given out for free.

Of course, the beer will still be flowing. This is the 150th birthday celebration for Miller Brewing Co., officially titled "The Big Brew-Ha!" but better known around town as "the Bon Jovi concert."

Miller officials say that every company employee received two concert tickets. Another 30,000 tickets were given to media outlets and businesses, including grocery stores, gas stations, bars and restaurants.

Since the free public tickets are being distributed only through radio station contests and random drawings around town, some fans have been working overtime trying to score seats at the show. The concert is a special treat for Bon Jovi lovers, since the band isn't expected to tour until after its new album, "Have a Nice Day," comes out next month.

Greendale salesman Lou Nick was lucky enough to get a ticket through a friend at Miller.

"I just think it's unique that they're doing it at Miller Park," said Nick, who has seen Bon Jovi twice and said he would have paid as much as $100 for a ticket.

Not so lucky is Jackie Herron of Appleton. In the last three weeks, she has stepped up her efforts to win tickets. She asked friends to drop by places that were giving them away, and she's been streaming WQBW-FM (97.3) online at work, even interrupting meetings to listen for her chance to win.

"I'm six months pregnant, and I'm nervous they're going to start touring and I'm not going to be able to make it to Milwaukee," said Herron, 27, who got her first Bon Jovi tape as a gift for her 10th birthday.

The event starts at 1:30 p.m. when Miller Park opens for a tailgate party featuring 10 local acts - think the LoveMonkeys, Eddie Butts Band, Fat Sandwich and R&B singer Cincere - on seven stages. Cotton candy and popcorn vendors will share space with the Miller High Life Cruiser and assorted walking Miller Beer bottles.

The tailgate party is open to everyone. Those with tickets to the concert get free parking at the stadium. Those who just want to go to the tailgate should park at State Fair Park and take a shuttle to Miller Park, said Jody Breier of Dig Communications, which is helping coordinate the event. .

At 3:30 p.m., Miller employees will be invited into the park for a private party featuring an acoustic performance by the BoDeans. Gov. Jim Doyle, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker are expected to address the event.

At 5 p.m., the gates will open to all ticketholders.

Partiers should keep their eyes peeled for highlights on the giant video screens. Miller will run commercials from the past interspersed with taped greetings from local and national celebrities.

Requests for Bon Jovi tickets came to Miller from as far away as Japan. Tickets also turned up on eBay for as much as $325 a pair.

Ticket broker Fred Benz, with Ticket King, said he's fielded calls for tickets, mostly from locals who couldn't snag the freebies.

"The fact that Bon Jovi isn't on a regular tour helps," said Benz , who is selling tickets for $85 to $95 each. "And it seems to have sort of a festival atmosphere to it."

Unlike Harley-Davidson's 100th anniversary celebration, when the company raised expectations by keeping the performer's name a secret until showtime, Miller announced Bon Jovi as the headliner right away. If people were disappointed in Elton John performing at the Harley event, they've rallied behind Bon Jovi.

Part of the reason could be that Bon Jovi fits Miller's image better than Elton John fit Harley's, said salesman Nick.

"Bon Jovi's more of a blue-collar band than what Elton John was," he said. "They relate to the city."

Bon Jovi Tickets
From 10 a.m. to noon today, tickets will be given away at several events:
WKLH-FM (96.5) will be at Saz's, 5501 W. State St.
WHQG-FM (102.9) will be at Kelly's Bleachers, 5318 W. Blue Mound Road.
WMIL-FM (106.1) will be at Steve's on Bluemound , 5841 W. Blue Mound Road.
WLUM-FM (102.1) will be at McGinn's, 5901 W. Blue Mound Road.
There also will be a ticket giveaway from 10 a.m. to noon at Leff's Lucky Town, 7208 W. State St., Wauwatosa.

Posted by riesambo at August 21, 2005 01:16 PM