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Madison high school stadium expansion plans divide neighborhood

MADISON (WKOW) — This year’s seniors at Edgewood High School technically had home games, except none of them were played on home turf.

The school used to have a contract with Middleton High School to use the football field for Edgewood’s home games when Middleton had away games, according to Michael Elliott, Edgewood High School’s President.

That contract ended and during the fall of 2018, Edgewood’s varsity team skipped around between vacant area stadiums to play their ‘home’ games.

“You can imagine just the whole operational duties of scheduling every game as an away game,” said Elliot. “Transportation is also an issue,” he continued.

One of the reasons Edgewood can’t play on their actual home field is because there are no stadium lights. It’s a race against daylight on Friday nights since the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association requires games not to start earlier than 7 p.m.

“There’s nothing like a home game,” Elliot said. “The students are frustrated and disappointed.”

It’s why Elliot has spent the last few years trying to make expansions to the current facility with a football field surrounded by a track. The plans include increasing the amount of bleacher seats to a thousand with concessions, bathrooms and storage underneath. It would also include stadium lights and a sound system.

The proposed changes are the talk of the neighborhood. As you drive down Monroe Street and Woodrow Street, you can’t miss the red signs stuck in the frozen front yards of dozens of homes.

“No new stadium,” said Marie Trest as she read her sign. She lives about 100 feet from the football field across Monroe Street.

Right now, junior varsity and other teams play on the field during the daytime hours.

“We’ve noticed that with the games, even with just 50 people, are incredibly loud,” Trest said. “In fact, we can hear them in our home with the windows closed.”

Noise, traffic and lights are the main concerns. Elliot said he understands how neighbors feel.

“I get it. But honestly, we’re investing is very expensive lighting that’s brand new, state of the art, that will not be a problem for neighbors as far as shining in their houses,” said Elliot as he explained the various changes the school has made to plans after attending several listening sessions with neighbors.

The school is in the process of putting together an environmental impact study on how the upgrades would impact Lake Wingra, according to Elliot.

Elliot said a maximum of 40 games in various sports could be played under the stadium lights per year. However, that could take every team at Edgewood making playoffs in the division, according to Elliot.

“So it would be more like, between 23 and 25 games,” said Elliot.

Still, neighbors are standing firm as school pushed forward.

“Well, I know they’ve made a good faith effort with technology, but you still can’t control crowd noise,” said Trest.

“We’re all neighbors and I don’t want it to sound like it’s the neighbors and it’s Edgewood. I’m hopeful that between Edgewood and the neighbors, we can continue to talk about this concept and see where we can go from here,” Elliot concluded.

The plan for the upgrades will be discussed a the city’s Planning Commission meeting on January 14th. If it passes there, it will go before City Council on January 22nd.

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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