The Madison City Council has approved a new use agreement for Breese Stevens Field with Big Top Events, putting the facility a step closer to hosting professional soccer.
Big Top Events has been working to secure a new use agreement for Breese Stevens Field, which it has operated since 2015. There are multiple components of the facility’s use covered under that deal, including language that allows the venue to host professional soccer.
Madison officials have been discussing upgrades to accommodate professional soccer, and took another step forward Tuesday with their approval of the use agreement. The approval of the use agreement from the city council comes ahead of a major announcement that Big Top Events is planning for Thursday. More from the Wisconsin State Journal:
“We feel the top use of the facility long-term is soccer,” said Vern Stenman, president of Big Top. “This is going to be something this community is going to be proud of for a long time.”
Included was $1.3 million from the city toward soccer-related facility improvements. A new speaker system to better contain noise inside the stadium, improved player facilities and new hospitality spaces are planned.
A seating capacity of 5,000, up from the current 2,800, also is part of the capital improvement project.
Big Top Events, which also runs the Madison Mallards summer collegiate baseball team that plays at Warner Park, intends to reveal its soccer plans at a 6 p.m. Thursday public event at Breese Stevens Field, 917 E. Mifflin St.
The agreement will run through 2028, with a mutual option that could extend it to 2033. Big Top’s original agreement from 2015 was to run through 2022, and included a five-year mutual option. In its current form, Breese Stevens Field is used for multiple types of events, including concerts and amateur soccer, but the use agreement and facility upgrades are intended to make it suitable for professional soccer.
“As we look forward to the 2019 summer with the anticipation of professional soccer at the venue, which we all agree is the best purpose, the best years and the best use of that facility is certainly in front of us,” Big Top Events president Vern Stenman said in a press statement.
Big Top Events owns and operates four summer collegiate league baseball teams, including the Madison Mallards (Northwoods League).
Image courtesy Breese Stevens Field.