For the City Times
Wisconsin Rapids Rafters fans will have a new seating option when they arrive at historic Witter Field on May 26th to watch the Rafters open the 2015 Northwoods League season.
They’ll also have a few additional beverage options to choose from as well. Through a new partnership with Stevens Point Brewery, the team has announced the addition of the Point Craft River, an all-inclusive, 80 foot long, seating venue located underneath the Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa Rat Trap, down the third base side of the stadium.
The highlight feature of the new area is a built in river system that will deliver canned craft beer to the fans via rafts down a live water current. The all-inclusive venue will provide fans an opportunity to purchase a $27 (general admission) or $30 (reserved seat) game ticket, giving them unlimited craft beer through the end of the seventh inning.
Food will also be provided through the end of the fifth inning as part of the ticket price as well. The reserved ticket includes a seat at the water-powered bar, while the general admission ticket will provide access to tables behind the bar. The venue will be available to both the walk-up crowd as well as groups of any size.
“This is going to be a one-of-a-kind venue that is unique to the entire world and it’s going to be right here in Wisconsin Rapids,” Rafters general manager John Fanta said. “There’s no precedent to go off of for this. We looked into trying to find if there was another bar that had a river built into it and we couldn’t find one.
The first 40 fans that purchase a reserved seat to the Point Craft River each night will get a numbered raft and a beverage menu and will sit in the seat that corresponds to the number on their raft. A row of high top tables will be located behind the bar area for the general admission ticket holders in the venue. The general admission ticket will come with all of the same amenities of the reserved seat except for the individually numbered raft and direct access to the river.
“Fans will send their craft beverage order along with their numbered raft on a zip line down to a center service area,” added Fanta. “The bartender will fill the order by placing a canned craft beer- whichever kind you order- into the raft and float it back down to them via the river.”
The team has worked to keep all facets of the project local by partnering with companies such as NextGen Logs, Eron & Gee Herman’s Plumbing and Heating, and Point Brewery. Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink suggested using NextGen Logs because it’s chief product – concrete logs – ties in with the Rafters log theme at Witter Field.
“It’s a no-maintenance log siding,” said NextGen co-owner Jim Bord. “The color is right in the concrete, so it never has to be re-stained or painted. And it’s lightweight; it doesn’t weigh any more than traditional log siding for about the same price.”
Like many other of the member involved, Bord is looking forward to the project being unveiled. “We’ve done concrete bars, but never anything like this.”
The heart of the bar design will be the river, which will flow in two different directions, originating from a main central service area. The implementation of that unique feature will be the task of Kelly Rosekrans, project manager with Eron & Gee Herman’s Plumbing and Heating.
“I’m not an engineer, but I guess if it has to do with beer, I can help them out,” Rosekrans said in reference to the Rafters new project. “On my end, I know it will work. It will take some tweaking on my end to make it go, but I’m confident it will work.”
The partnership with Stevens Point Brewery, is the driving force behind bringing the state-of-the-art venue to Witter Field. Eighteen of the 24 craft beers offered in the Point Craft River will be provided by Point Brewery, which has the naming rights and sponsorship of the area.
“I had never heard of a river built into a bar — especially one that will serve beer to customers,” said Julie Birenkott, director of marketing for Point Brewery. “I thought it was really creative how they can tie together well-known icons—the Wisconsin River and Point beers—all in one.”
The Rafters project the construction phase to begin in the next couple weeks and then to unveil the area to Rafters fans sometime in May. Tickets for the Point Craft River will go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 24th at 9am, in conjunction with single game ticket sales. Groups that wish to reserve space at the Point Craft Raft can do so by calling the Rafters ticket office at 715-424-5400 or by stopping into the Rafthouse Team Shop Monday through Friday between 9am-5pm.
Solarus Founders Club, 9 Game Pack, Season Tickets, and group outing opportunities are available now. Call the Rafters tickets office at 715-424-5400 to reserve your tickets today.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.