Boulder, Colo. – In just eight days’ time, 10 of the top club rugby programs in the country will descend on Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wis., for the 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Men’s & Women’s Club National Championships. The venue, unfamiliar to many, is new, but the stadium itself is an historic gem in the Madison sports landscape. In fact, many have recently taken to colloquially calling Breese Stevens Field the ‘Wrigley Field of Rugby.’
Originally built in the early 1920s, Breese Stevens Field was dedicated May 5, 1926. Designed by local architectural firm Claude and Stark, the stadium was originally constructed in what is known as Mediterranean Revival style – a style highlighted by red-tiled roofing reminiscent of the palaces and villas dotting the coasts of Spain and Italy. Visitors today can still see remnants of this original design in the mid-section of the facility’s grandstand, where sections of red tile greet fans walking through the gate.
During the Great Depression, the stadium saw its first expansion under the care of the Civil Works Administration, a Roosevelt Administration attempt to get Wisconsinites working. Using stone from nearby Hoyt Park, an exterior stone wall was added in 1934. Bleachers were also installed, as was a press box in 1939 (since updated). The upgrades significantly added to the allure of the park, and CWA markings are still preserved along the field’s picturesque outer wall.
At 88 years old, you might be fooled into thinking that the stadium is beginning to show its age, but you’d be wrong. Locals cherish the sports park and major renovations have occurred as recently as 2007, 2009, and 2011, partially funded with the help of grants from the Dane County and Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) Sports Venue Development Fund. In August of this year, the field will also receive a $1.2 million artificial turf installation – a move that the City of Madison hopes will allow for extended use of the facility.
Named a historic landmark, visitors should be sure to walk the grounds’ exterior walls, where serenading ivy abuts views of the historic Wisconsin Capitol Building. The idyllic venue seats 4,000 spectators on the touchline, with an additional 2,000 seats in the covered grandstand (formerly used for baseball), providing a spectacular setting for this year’s championships.
“Breese Stevens Field is an historic stadium that has had a major presence in this city, and it’s really exciting to bring rugby to it at this point,” said Max Zukowski, president of the Wisconsin Rugby Club. “To know that this year’s championships will be held right here in Madison is an honor for our team and for our entire community. We’re ready to host an outstanding event for all of the teams and fans.”
The picturesque town of Madison is heralded for its recreational and entertainment opportunities and is welcoming rugby with open arms. In 2014, Forbes rated Madison the third-best city in America for young adults, and Livability has consistently ranked it in the Top Ten Places to Live. Livability has also named it a top-five city for ‘foodies,’ which is sure to please visiting teams and fans.
The 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Men’s & Women’s Club National Championships will be held at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, Wis., May 31. All five Finals will be streamed live in high definition on USA Rugby TV. Individual tickets for Saturday’s USA Rugby Championships are just $10 and group rates are also available. For fans that also wish to watch the Wisconsin High School Championships Sunday, an individual weekend pass is just $15.
2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline National Club Championships - Saturday, May 31
|10:00 AM||Men’s Division III||Old Blue of New York D3 vs. Life West Gladiators|
|12:15 PM||Women’s Division II||Pittsburgh Angels vs. Sacramento Amazons|
|2:30 PM||Men’s Division II||Rocky Gorge Rugby vs. Tempe Old Devils|
|4:45 PM||Women’s Division I||Chicago North Shore vs. Oregon Sports Union|
|7:00 PM||Men’s Division I||Life Running Eagles vs. New Orleans Rugby|