Forward Madison FC owner and Breese Stevens Field operator Big Top Events is proposing new field-level suites, and is willing to discuss initial design concerns with the city.
Set to begin play this spring in the upstart USL League One, Forward Madison FC is backed by Big Top Events–the same organization that operates multiple summer-collegiate league baseball teams, including the Madison Mallards (Northwoods League). Big Top Events also operates the city-owned Bresse Stevens Field, and has worked with Madison, WI officials to make a variety of upgrades to the facility to accommodate professional soccer.
Recently, the organization submitted a proposal to install 11 field-level suites at Breese Stevens Field, which it would pay to build. The suites would provide a premium hospitality option at the facility for soccer matches, but would be removed once the season concludes. It was revealed Thursday that city staff is recommending that the Landmarks Commission–which has to sign off on the proposal–reject the initial design, primarily on the basis that the suites would be out of character with the historic venue. For its part, Big Top indicates that it is willing to work with the city to address concerns over the Breese Stevens Field suites and is hopeful that a reworked design could be approved. More from the Wisconsin State Journal:
Since Breese Stevens Field is a historic landmark, the suites would need to use materials that are similar in design, color, scale and appearance to the stadium to be granted a “Certificate of Appropriateness” to move forward, according to [city preservation planner Heather] Bailey’s report.
Calling it a “bump in the road,” Vern Stenman, president of Big Top Events, said he was flexible with the design and was optimistic that a re-worked proposal would meet the city’s requirements and win approval.
He said he’s proud of the relationship that Big Top — which also runs the Madison Mallards baseball team and hosts the Shake the Lake event — has with the city.
“We’re excited to have a dialogue and find some common ground that allows us to do what we need to do,” he said.
Breese Stevens Field is a WPA-era facility that once hosted Madison minor-league baseball, but in recent years it’s been reconfigured for soccer and football with the installation of a new artificial-turf playing field. Forward Madison FC will be one of 10 teams competing in USL League One’s inaugural season.
Rendering courtesy Forward Madison FC.