Dear Fans of Forward Madison FC,
Recently we have been faced with a situation that is unique to Forward Madison amongst the 47 USL Clubs. The League Board of Governors has voted to return to play, but due to local health restrictions, we are unable to train or play in our home market of Madison, Wisconsin, at our home venue, Breese Stevens Field. We respect the decisions of the local officials, have abided by these rules and are not making any effort to contest these policies. However, we are a member of a League and thus have an obligation to the USL League One and our fellow members to participate in the League.
Therefore, to fulfill our commitment to the League, we were required to find another facility to call home for 2020. Over the last month, our front office has explored nearly a dozen facilities across southern Wisconsin. Our task was to find a venue that meets United States Soccer Federation Division III standards located in a municipality where contact sports are allowed.
After an exhaustive search, we are excited to call Hart Park in Wauwatosa home for the 2020 season. We would like to thank the City of Wauwatosa for welcoming us and working with our compressed timeline. Our COVID Readiness Plan has been approved by the City of Wauwatosa’s Department of Public Health and we are confident we can return to play in a safe environment at Hart Park.
We understand that such a drastic change of venue will present many questions to our loyal fans. This is not a decision that was made lightly. There has been a great deal of time, effort and planning put into this decision to participate in 2020. We are aware there are concerns about player and fan safety. Candidly, we share those concerns and have worked to develop an extensive plan to make our match day environment as safe as possible for our players, fans and staff.
The USL has an extensive Return to Play protocol that was developed with a National Task Force of professional soccer Leagues and guided by several international public health experts. Furthermore, we have a custom plan for Hart Park that features the following:
a. Face coverings will be required at all times for guests. The one exception will be when guests are consuming food or beverages while in their assigned seats.
b. We have developed a socially distanced seat map for Hart Park that provides a 36-foot radius around each household of tickets. This takes the normal grandstands with a capacity of 4,900 down to 1,347 seats. We will be operating at less than 30 percent capacity and will socially distance throughout the large venue.
c. We will have increased sanitization practices at the venue pre-match, during the match and post-match. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the venue. Furthermore, we will transition to a cashless environment and offer food and beverage in a modified manner to ensure safety.
Finally, I know there are going to be concerns about the distance of our new venue from Madison. Playing home matches 75 miles from home is not an ideal situation. This was the best and only viable solution given available venues and restrictions. If you are interested and willing, we would love to have you join us at Hart Park. If that is not a fit, we totally understand and will credit your account for 2021.
I want to close by thanking you for your continued support of Forward Madison FC. You have made this Club what it is. While the Club has done our best to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, it has been heartening to know we have had your unwavering support throughout this time. I thank you for that.
Forward Madison FC Chief Operating Officer/ Owner