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Breese Stevens Field

The Madison Parks Division is proposing more improvements to historic Breese Stevens Field, including bleacher upgrades, more bleachers, and a hospitality area atop a soon-to-be-built concession structure.

Already a hub for sports, music and events, historic Breese Stevens Field on Madison’s Near East Side would get further spiffing up under a plan from the city’s Parks Division.

Officials are proposing a mix of hospitality, seating and field improvements, including a public hospitality deck, part of it atop a soon-to-be-built concessions addition and the rest above underused concrete seating beneath a 1925 canopy at the west end of the stadium.

The proposal also includes more bleachers, a paved area at the east end of the stadium to better accommodate concerts and vendors, and other upgrades for professional United Soccer League Division III competition, coming to the stadium in March 2019.

“These improvements are necessary to modernize the facility and make it more spectator-friendly, as well as are key to ensuring a facility that meets the standards for professional soccer,” parks superintendent Eric Knepp said.

The Parks Division made an informational presentation to the city’s Landmarks Commission on Monday evening, with a vote on initial approval, called a “certificate of appropriateness,” expected Nov. 19. A neighborhood meeting is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 1. at Festival Foods, 810 E. Washington Ave.

Specifically, the proposed improvements include:

  • Constructing a hospitality deck, likely with tables mostly atop a new, 3,780-square-foot concessions building but also extending over underused concrete seats under the center of the 1925 roof, an area built as baseball seating but now farthest from the soccer field and concert stage. The deck would create an active, social space offering better views of the field.
  • Installing new bleacher seats on the concrete steps under the north wing of the roof.
  • Creating a drink-rail area for standing spectators featuring narrow, raised tables on the concrete steps under the south wing of the roof.
  • Adding a 16,000-square-foot paved area to accommodate the temporary concert stage and vendors at the east end of the stadium.
  • Replacing part of a gravel area with a concrete surface near the press box on the south side of the stadium.
  • Installing bleachers on the east side of the stadium.
  • Setting up temporary bench shelters for soccer players and temporary fencing on the perimeter of the soccer field, including a scrolling LED screen along one section of the fence on the south side of the field.
  • Improving handicap access on the west end of the stadium.
  • Replacing roll-up doors on the north end of the stadium.

The Parks Division is “trying to get an understanding of concerns and the reaction to the proposed improvements,” said Mike Sturm, a landscape architect with the Parks Division.

Breese Stevens Municipal Athletic Field was built in 1925, with additions in 1934 and 1939. The stone wall enclosing the field was built by the Civil Works Administration in 1934. The site was designated a city landmark in 1995 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

The city has invested about $5.9 million for improvements to the stadium since 2007, including $1 million to install artificial turf in 2015, and $1.65 million for the concessions and restrooms building now under construction.

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