Edgewood High School has made a strong case for hosting a handful of football games at night on Madison’s Near West Side, with lights off by 10 p.m.
That shouldn’t be a burden for the surrounding neighborhood, given the school’s commitment to purchase modern lights and speakers that will minimize any impact beyond campus.
The school also wants to hold a couple of dozen soccer, lacrosse and track events in the early evening, with lights off by 8:30 p.m. Most of those games and meets are already occurring at Edgewood, but earlier in the day.
City of Madison officials should grant the school’s reasonable request.
The ability to hold limited home games in the evening wouldn’t just benefit Edgewood students, parents and fans. It would help many other school districts across the region simplify their sports schedules. All Badger Conference athletic directors have written letters of recommendation for Edgewood’s request.
For decades, Edgewood has played all of its “home” football games at fields away from campus. Booking those fields in Madison and Middleton is becoming harder to do because of higher demand. So the school wants to build an $850,000 to $1 million stadium around an existing field. The money will come entirely from gifts.
Some neighbors have objected. They say Edgewood is violating a master plan that was agreed to four years ago. But the plan allows for amendments. In fact, at the request of neighbors, Edgewood amended the plan once before to build additional parking. That helped deter students from parking on the streets in front of residents’ houses.
Some neighbors worry about heavier traffic. But Edgewood would play only five regular season football games and no more than three playoff football games per season. The school has plenty of parking on campus to accommodate far more than the average 500 fans who attend football games at other sites now. And the vast majority of athletic events draw 150 or fewer people.
Edgewood has promised not to hold any concerts at the site. Nor will it rent out the field in the evenings.
Some critics worry the project could negatively impact the Arboretum and Lake Wingra. But Arboretum officials say that’s not a concern.
Edgewood is a private school, which explains some of the resistance to its plan. Yet 57 percent of Edgewood’s nearly 500 students are from Madison, and nearly a quarter of those students live within Edgewood’s zip code.
A city alderman’s suggestion that Edgewood limit its use of stadium lights to just five nights per year is unnecessarily restrictive, given the lengths the school has gone to address public concerns. The city Plan Commission and City Council should allow a handful of football games at night plus other sporting events in the early evening.