Madison shouldn’t let inflated concerns about traffic and noise stop the fun at Breese Stevens Field from expanding.
The historic stone stadium has come alive in recent years as a public venue for all kinds of community events in the heart of the Isthmus near Downtown.
City officials should keep the good vibes going, and embrace a proposal by management company Big Top Baseball to bring more events to the stadium — maybe even a professional soccer team.
Big Top is the same company that turned the Madison Mallards baseball team into a success at Warner Park on the North Side. And they’ve helped bring Breese Stevens back to life after years of underuse.
Some neighbors in the busy, urban area along East Washington Avenue — a major traffic artery to Downtown — are understandably concerned about more noise, traffic and limited parking.
But the positive benefits Madison and the region will reap from a more vibrant Breese Stevens far outweigh the less compelling and narrow interests of nearby residents.
Remember: The athletic field has existed on the site for 93 years, serving as Madison’s “premier athletic field” until the 1960s, according to the Madison Landmarks Commission. So it was here, with lots of large, cheering crowds, long before current residents moved in.
And its decline in recent decades shouldn’t relegate it to a sleepy and neglected existence — especially given the building boom along East Wash that’s attracting many of the young professionals our city and state need more of.
The city and Big Top Baseball should continue to activate the charming facility with more concerts, festivals and other events that help make Madison such a great place to live.
The city’s Parks Division is proposing a $1.1 million project that deserves public support, including permanent concessions space and more restrooms next to the grandstand at the west end of the artificial turf.
Some city officials and critics think the modern facilities will clash with the field’s historic architecture. But the proposal is affordable, and shouldn’t require lots of expensive changes.
Breese Stevens is back, and the city should welcome and encourage it to expand its rich legacy and fun offerings.