BY SHANZEH AHMAD | PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMADIAN
Recently, Edgewood High School has been under scrutiny from the surrounding neighborhood for wanting to update its practice field into a full-fledged football stadium.
The proposal includes adding stadium lights, a sound system, and seating for 1,300 people to convert the current field so that Edgewood is able to host games at home.
Edgewood High School President Michael Elliott said Edgewood should be able to play their games at home. “We have always had the desire to play our varsity sports events on our campus on a true home field,” said Elliot. “We need to be able to play our games at home: for liability reasons, for safety reasons, for scheduling reasons, for operational reasons, and for financial reasons. It would also create tremendous school pride for current students and alumni.”
Bob Meyer, a neighbor living across from the high school on Monroe Street, told Isthmus that a football stadium does not fit the neighborhood. “It wouldn’t fit any neighborhood with traffic and proximity,” said Meyer.
Elliot said that prior to now, Edgewood did not have the technology to allow for this project. “Lighting solutions were not available to satisfy neighbors’ concerns,” said Elliott.
As for the stadium seating, Elliot said it would be very low profile and located on the school side of the field. “It will be from the 20 yard line to the 20 yard line, and about 20 rows,” said Elliot. “It will be very nice looking from the streets. It will have a press box, under-seating storage, changing rooms, restrooms, and concessions.”
This project comes with concerns from the surrounding neighborhoods that include traffic, parking, usage, lighting, and sound,” Elliott said. “We presented very good solutions and answers to each concerns at a neighborhood meeting. That presentation is available at our website. If the opponents would look at and listen to the solutions to the voiced concerns, they would see how this can benefit the entire neighborhood and improve their property values.”
Tyler Leeper, president of the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association, said that the DMNA understands that Edgewood High School is exploring the idea of the stadium. “As a neighborhood, we are in the process of gathering and reviewing the information provided by Edgewood High School on this idea,” said Leeper.
The presentation Elliott mentioned addressed all five of the neighborhood’s concerns. It stated that traffic will not be an issue for the neighbors. “Our crowds are small, 100 to 400 for most events,” said Elliot. “These crowds and these events have been happening on campus for years during the day with no disruption or inconvenience to the neighbors. The exception is football, with crowds of 400 to 800 on average, which has to be held at night due to conference policy. All schools prefer and do play other sports like soccer, lacrosse, and track in the evening so school is not missed for travel or competition, and so parents can attend.”
Parking and usage were also addressed. Elliot said that parking will be handled on the Edgewood campus. As for usage, he also said it will be reasonable. “Usage, for most events will be completed and have lights out by 9 p.m.,” said Elliot. “Football, holding a total of five to seven events, will be completed with lights out by 9:45 p.m. These times more than meet the city and neighborhood agreements for outdoor events.”
Lighting and sound are going to be implemented in new and improved ways. “Lighting will be unlike any lighting you see offered in the city currently,” said Elliot. “It exceeds Madison’s dark sky requirements and has no neighborhood spill, glow, or glare.” Elliot also said that the lights would only be used when necessary.
“Sound will be custom designed with speakers low and only facing at the stands, away from Woodrow and Monroe streets,” said Elliott. “This will eliminate sound drift to the neighbors. In addition, sound reduction and deadening will be designed for specific crowd sizes.”
Bill Rattunde, another resident of the neighborhood, told WMTV in an interview last month that all of these advancements did not necessarily matter to him. “There’s all this discussion in the advancement in lighting, in sound, but there‘s no advancement in 1,200 people shouting and screaming across the street from you,” said Rattunde.
Edgewood has been in the neighborhood for over 135 years. “We have cared for the neighborhood and the neighbors in everything we have done and continue to do,” said Elliot. “We have a history of working together on concerns and solutions to build a better neighborhood. If we are open-minded and provide open and honest communication to each other, we can produce a product that benefits the entire neighborhood.”