The operators of Breese Stevens Field and the Madison Metropolitan School District are now officially in agreement about how to use Lapham Elementary School’s parking lot — a valued asset for users of the historic stadium and a parent teacher group.
Big Top Events needs to use the lot to provide parking spaces for stadium staff and players on the Forward Madison professional soccer team. However, the parent teacher groups for Lapham and Marquette elementary schools and O’Keeffe Middle School see the parking lot as a profitable fundraising opportunity.
The agreement in place allows for both, with representatives from Big Top Events and the Lapham and Marquette parent teacher group calling it “positive” and “fantastic.”
School district spokesperson Liz Merfeld said the collaborative agreement benefits MMSD and provides needed parking for events at Breese Stevens Field.
Under the contract that was made official May 16, the school district allows Big Top to use the parking lot at 1045 E. Dayton St. for agreed upon events that do not conflict with Lapham or Madison School & Community Recreation events. The contract runs through Oct. 31.
Big Top Events will staff the lot during soccer games and pay the district $6 per parking space for up to 50 spaces. If not all parking spaces are being used, Big Top will sell the excess spaces for a minimum of $10 per parking space.
“We’re excited about it,” Big Top and Forward Madison president Vern Stenman said. “We were able to accomplish the major priorities for everyone involved and make it an overall positive for everyone, which is always what our intent was.”
All revenue Big Top generates from selling spaces will go to the school district. MMSD spokesperson Rachel Strauch Nelson estimated that Big Top will generate about $8,000 in funding.
During all concerts at the stadium and other events as agreed, the parent teacher groups will staff the lot and sell event parking. David Staple, parent teacher group board member, said the funding will be returned to the school district, which will cut checks for the parent teacher groups.
“I think it was fair and, certainly in the end, really beneficial for the school,” Staple said.
Staple said the fundraising opportunities will allow the parent teacher group to “do more” for the schools. The parent group has historically funded field trips, grant requests from teachers and Lapham’s garden.
“Core to our mission is to support the schools and in given the funding situation schools are in, the more money we have means we can provide more assistance for the schools, more enriching opportunities for the students,” Staple said.
If no volunteers from the parent teacher groups are identified within two weeks of a scheduled concert or other non-concert event, other MMSD school parent teacher groups will be given the opportunity to staff the events, according to the contract.
However, interest in volunteering has been high. Staple said about 25 volunteers have been identified for the Greta Van Fleet, Rob Thomas and Daryl Hall and John Oates concerts coming up this summer.