Zoning board determines Edgewood can't hold any games in stadium

MADISON (WKOW) — After years debating the private, Catholic school’s plans to build a football stadium with lights and a sound system to host home games, the city zoning board determined the stadium doesn’t have the authorization to host any games at all.

It comes down the the school’s master plan. The plan contains language saying the school can hold practices and physical education classes on their field but it said nothing about games. After the city warned the school any future competitions would be a zoning violation, Edgewood continued playing with the hope they’d win an appeal.

In a meeting that lasted until midnight Thursday evening, the board voted 4-0 to deny Edgewood’s appeal.

For recent Edgewood graduate, Madeline Cruz, it came as a disappointment. After four years on the soccer team, she said she’s made a lot of memories in that stadium and she wants her former teammates to do the same.

“To know that my sister might not have somewhere to play next year is upsetting,” she said.

Cruz was at Thursday’s meeting to testify to what the stadium meant to her as a student and how it felt to learn its future could be in jeopardy. She recalled a moment in her last season when a police officer came up to the school president to deliver the news about the zoning disagreement.

“We were informed while we were warming up that the neighborhood association, along with the city did not want us, just kids to play on our home field,” she said.

For neighbors like Shawn Schey, it comes down to transparency. She said the school didn’t consult with neighbors before they started hosting games on the new turf with a louder sound system.

“The idea of competition and forty night games a year is a vast change,” she said.

A drive down the streets neighboring Edgewood show Schey is not alone. The streets are lined with signs reading “No New Stadium.”

According to Edgewood’s president Michael Elliot, the school’s home games so far have all been during daylight hours and featured limited sound amplification. Something the school has been doing for years.

Still, Schey said the number of games and the level of noise seems to have increased dramatically and its already disrupting neighbors.

“It is very difficult to have a conversation inside your house,” she said.

As for the Edgewood students, Cruz said they’re just looking for the same high school sports experience nearly every other school in the area has to offer with their stadiums.

“That’s how you bring a community together,” she said.

Schey counters that most Madison-area schools aren’t quite as close to residential neighborhoods, with homes just 100 feet away. Still, she said she’s willing to find a compromise.

“What they would like to do would greatly impact beyond the bounds of their campus,” she said. “If Edgewood wants to come forward and talk with the neighborhood again.”

The attorney representing Edgewood in Thursday’s meeting, Matt Lee, said the school isn’t ready to back down just yet. He released a statement saying in part:

“We are certain that Edgewood High School has every legal right to host athletic events on our field, just like all of the city’s public high schools and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We intend to further explore any and all of our options going forward.”

According to Elliot, the school has not yet determined where they will host home games in the upcoming school year, but district Alder Tag Evers said there’s still time for the school to amend their master plan to try to get competitions back on their fields.

“We have a real opportunity to rebuild and repair. Repair the sense of trust between Edgewood and their neighbors,” he said.

Any change to the plan would have to go before the planning commission and then city council for final approval.

More at WKOW 27 News

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