Sell naming rights? I don’t know why I had such a visceral response to this, but I find it offensive. I guess its because the city made a promise and now it wants to go back on it and that seems wrong – morally if not legally. Perhaps its because it is named after a former Mayor? Perhaps its because I don’t think they need to go through this to have some non-athletic events in the park? Perhaps it because its already named and re-naming it seems unnecessary and disrespectful of the past?. Perhaps its because we think we can get away with it so we’re doing it? Perhaps its because of the recent experience with the naming rights of the Tenney Park Shelter where they wouldn’t tell us it would be named after the Wall Family when it passed the council? I don’t know, it just seems wrong.
Breese Stevens Field you ask? It’s here. It’s the soccer stadium on East Washington Ave with the really bright lights and no parking. Here is a description from the parks website:
As one of the most utilized athletic fields in Madison, Breese Stevens Athletic FBreese Stevens Athletic Field ield is also one of the city’s most historic pieces of land. This premiere soccer facility is used primarily in the spring and the fall by inter-scholastic sports. The 4,000 seat stadium has served as the site for a number of Wisconsin state high school soccer tournaments. Staff prefers to not rent the facility in the summer in order to have time for field renovations.
August 16, 2011
After successful renovations in 2007 and 2009, Breese Stevens Athletic Field is now installing a new press box in its facility.
Breese Stevens Athletic Field , located on 917 E. Mifflin Street, is a historical landmark owned and operated by the City of Madison Parks Division. It’s used primarily as a soccer facility where area high schools including East, LaFollette, West, Memorial and Edgewood High, and Edgewood College and the Madison 56ers soccer team have all played.
“As a 20-year tenant of Breese Stevens Field Edgewood College is thankful for the press box upgrade,” states Director of Athletic Communications for Edgewood College David Petroff. “Edgewood College would like to thank the City of Madison and both construction companies on working together to get this project completed.”
The new press box will allow people to film and monitor the field from an elevated position 12 feet above the ground. Edgewood’s Petroff adds, “We can continue to provide videocasting of every Edgewood College home event on the internet, since we have a protected, wired location to set up equipment. We’ll also have the option of adding broadcasters to key matches to further enhance our coverage of Eagle Athletics, which benefits the College in terms of recruiting and exposure and showcases Breese Stevens Athletic Field, a classic, historical stadium.”
The press box itself is ready after being constructed in Green Bay, according to Tom Maglio, landscape architect for Madison Parks. All that remains is building the support structure and footings in the ground.
“The entire project should be done by Labor Day weekend,” Maglio said.
Over the years, the turf and premiere playing conditions at Breese Stevens have remained top-notch; however, the 1926 facility was showing its age.
In 2007, a phase of major renovations began in order to address several structural issues in the facility. Specifically, there was major concrete decking repair, replacement of the storm sewer system for better field and bleacher drainage, and accessibility improvements to get up to ADA code.
Developments continued in 2009 with the help of a $100,000 grant from the Dane County and Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) Sports Venue Development Fund. This helped pay for the addition of new referee locker rooms, the updating of existing locker rooms and wall repairs.
Currently, there is work on exterior improvements along Paterson St. to add plantings while upgrading seating areas, benches and tables. Improvement plans for this facility do not stop there.
Kevin Briski, Madison Parks Superintendent added, “With the stadium improvements and now the press box, the long term plans for Breese Stevens include the addition of artificial turf to enhance soccer play and additional scheduling of soccer, football and other field sports.”
I agree that we need to find a way to open up that park. I agree that it should be used for more events. I agree that it still needs to be fixed up and that we are making very slow progress on the plan. But . . . there is a fierce and active group of soccer enthusiasts who also will defend their use of the park and have good reasons why it should stay this premiere field.
I wish I had time to make it to the parks commission last night to hear the discussion, but I didn’t have time to sit through all the issues on the agenda and guess when this might come up. I don’t know if they discussed it or what they decided, but it will be coming before the council and the council would need a 2/3 vote to give the Parks Commission ability to do this.
To better explain, here’s some paragraphs from the resolution that outline the details and a few comments.
WHEREAS, on December 1, 1936, following the satisfaction of a land contract entered into in 1923 and the payment of a total of $35,000, the City of Madison obtained title to Block 159 in the Original Plat of Madison (aka the Pritchette Plat), the land encompassed by E. Mifflin St., N. Brearly St., E. Washington Ave., and N. Paterson St. that now makes up the Breese Stevens Athletic Field property (see the Warranty Deed recorded on December 14, 1936 in Vol. 379 of Deeds at p. 171, Doc. 591365);
WHEREAS, as a condition of the purchase from the two surviving children of Breese Stevens, Amelia Stevens and Elizabeth Stevens Jackson, the City agreed to a deed restriction upon the City’s use of the land, specifically that “said block shall forever be known and designated as the ‘Breese Stevens Athletic Field,’ and that said premises shall never be used for any other purpose than that of an athletic field”; and,
I guess this is where the moral issues come in – we made a promise to a family to honor their father – a former Mayor of the City of Madison. Here’s more on the history from the parks website.
This athletic facility was built on a block sold to the City of Madison in 1923 by the widow of former Madison Mayor Breese J. Stevens. The City hired local architects Claude and Starck to design a stadium for the new field in 1925. The stone walls were constructed in 1934 by the federal Civil Works Administration, the same year lighting towers were erected. During its early years the field was used for most outdoor high school athletic events and for minor league baseball. In 1982 a rehabilitation project converted it to a soccer facility.
Breese Stevens Field was designated a City of Madison Landmark on October 16, 1995.
WHEREAS, there is a history of periodic non-athletic uses of Breese Stevens Athletic Field since 1936, uses which have been in violation of the terms of the deed restriction; and
WHEREAS, there have been some recent community requests to use the Breese Stevens Athletic Field facility for non-athletic events in violation of the terms of the deed restriction; and,
I was alder for 8 years and sat on the Breese Stevens planning committee (can’t find the report on line, but it must be) and tried to get people to have events there and was NEVER told that would be prohibited or that ANY use other than sports was prohibited, I was always told that it was to remain the PRIMARY use and that since it was the cities premier soccer field with special amenities for that, we were ok to have an event every once in a while – as long as it didn’t disturb the turf or people paid to repair it after the event.
WHEREAS, as the Breese Stevens Athletic Field facility approaches its second century of service, more flexibility in its use, and possibly naming rights, would allow the City to better care for and utilize this amenity; and,
Um, why would you purchase naming rights if the city is just going to ignore them years later and probably sell them again?
I gotta ask, after the surprise naming rights at the Tenney Park Shelter, where the name wasn’t revealed in council documents allowing the naming of it, who is behind this? Who wants to name the field and what do they want to do with it?
The full legal memo is here.
I’m sure some reporter covered this for us so we would know what is going on, right? Don’t hold your breath.
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