As a group of dignitaries officially broke ground on a new South Stadium today in the shadow of Hayes Bilingual School (housed in the former Kosciuszko Junior High), it was hard not to look around and think, "if these walls could talk."
A relatively small assemblage of current students, MPS employees, media and government representatives were on hand Thursday morning to capture the moment when ceremonial dirt was turned to signify a new future for the field, which runs along Windlake Avenue and Becher Street.
Built in 1925 to plans drawn by MPS architect Guy Wiley, the stadium's final games were played on the pitch in October 2013. The north stands are especially beautiful stepped structures executed in variegated red brick. Two towers rise in each rear corner and are adorned with cut stone that look like flickering candle flames.
But the north stands have also been condemned for reasons that are clear in one of the photographs above. The walls are literally crumbling.
The wooden doors in the south stands look positively medieval. They're gorgeous. And the place thrums with history.
My mom, her dad and his mom all went to South Division â€“ as did my sister-in-law and her siblings â€“ so I expect at least a bit of family history has played out here. And the same can be said for thousands of Milwaukee families with South Side roots.
A number of the speakers made reference to the past during an event that looks to the future. A former Kosy student and stadium employee and manager, Mike Wenzel, who remembers his earliest days on the field in 1953, said, wistfully, "if these walls could talk," and mentioned the many future NFL stars that played in the stadium.
City-wide school board member Terry Falk spoke of the first kisses shared by Milwaukee teens here across the decades, drawing a playful response from the crowd and smirks from the current students on hand. Ald. Jose Perez said his wife performed as a pom-pom girl at the stadium, though that first kiss, he added, did not occur here.
But time marches on and all things must come to an end.
While the geese still love the turf â€“ they've left their marks everywhere as proof â€“ it's sloped and too narrow for soccer, which has been played there, despite the limitations. The encircling track is in rough shape, too.
A new $9 million field, funded by Qualified School Construction Bonds and designed by American Design, Inc., is expected to be ready by the end of 2014. The stadium will serve as the home field for South Division, Bay View and Bradley Tech High Schools' football and soccer teams.
Demolition of the old stadium, which had a seating capacity of more than 10,000, is estimated to cost $559,163, and should be complete by the end of June. Stop by and see it before it goes.
After this project is completed, MPS will begin replacing Custer Stadium.
ANOTHER WASTE OF MPS FUNDS THAT COULD USED ALOY MORE FRUITEFULLY TO EDUCATE THE NEXT GENERATION. WHAT A JOKE !!!
So many memories of playing and coaching at South Stadium. My last high school soccer game as a player was there (1989 Sectional semifinal vs. West Allis Central), as well as my first varsity win as a coach (1990 girls' regional final, vs. South Division). Our school clinched its third straight trip to the girls' state soccer tournament on that field (1989, vs. Bay View), won a conference championship there (1994 boys, vs. Tech), and lost a sectional final that would have sent our state-ranked girls' team to its fourth straight state tournament at South (1990, vs. Greendale). The good times were many, the sorrows quite few, and I look forward to seeing the next generation of MPS athletes take their place in the annals of the new South Stadium.
Riverside University High School, Class of 1990
RUHS soccer coach, 1990-1994
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Jan. 29, 2015
If you've walked or driven past lately, you've likely seen that work on the Milwaukee Art Museum and War Memorial Center is well underway. Here's an update.
Published Jan. 28, 2015
The fire that destroyed the Metropolitan Block - described as "the equal to any building in the country" - was a sad reality, despite my own foggy memories of it.
Published Jan. 27, 2015
The visionary civil rights leader visited our city to speak on at least two occasions. His comments half a century ago remain as true now as they were then. Here is some of what he told Milwaukeeans.
Published Jan. 26, 2015
Maybe it's just because I love visiting schools, but I always tell prospective parents to go to a school that interests them as a potential option for their children. Sure, read Great Schools' ratings, talk to other parents, Google the school, but if you're going to do one thing only: go to the school. Not sure which school or schools to check out? Then the first step is to visit the MPS All-School Enrollment Fair on Saturday, Jan. 31 at Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
Published Jan. 26, 2015
DNA testing for genealogical purposes can open up new vistas in your self-identity and your self-awareness. We took a test and here's what we learned.
Published Jan. 24, 2015
When Milwaukee's Italian community read the news that a group of Americans - including many prominent city residents - would protest Italian intervention in Spain outside the Italian Consulate in June 1937, it must have awaited the event with at least some trepidation. When the protests took place, everyone - including the picketers themselves - were surprised by what occurred and by the reaction of Milwaukeeans.
Published Jan. 22, 2015
By the 1970s, an ugly addition and the gutting of the deco charm inside left The Edgewater a mere shadow of its original glory on the shores of Lake Mendota. But now, with a new owner, a completely new renovation and a brand new sister building across an inviting plaza, The Edgewater is clearly atop the world of Madison hotels once again.
Published Jan. 20, 2015
If you want to hear more about Dermond Property Investments LLC's plan to develop the site long occupied by Faust Drum Center, 2204 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., and weigh in on it, Ald. Tony Zielinski hosts a town hall meeting on the proposed development on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Bay View Post 180, 2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Published Jan. 20, 2015
The Williams House, 606 E. Homer St., holds special significance - both tragic and joyful - for Beau Walter's pioneering Bay View family.
Published Jan. 19, 2015
Much like a traveling tent show, the Wisconsin Historical Society is moving its new exhibition around the state and this month it's in Milwaukee. "The Wisconsin History Tour: Sharing Wisconsin's Stories One Community at a Time" is on view on the first floor of the Central Milwaukee Public Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., through Jan. 29.