The recent proposal to build a $15.6 million indoor/outdoor athletic facility on 58 acres along the south side of the Highway 151 corridor near Reiner Road signals a far-eastward shift of the Madison area's sports landscape.
And it's about time.
While active adults and families on the city's west side have long enjoyed access to such first-class multipurpose facilities as Breakaway Sports Center, Hitters Sportsplex and Keva Sports Center, east-siders have little more than the Princeton Club, Hartmeyer Ice Arena and Boulders Climbing Gym. There's nothing wrong with those places, but now a surge of commercial development in and around Sun Prairie has the potential to make the long-overlooked other side of Madison just as -- if not more -- desirable for athletes.
The nonprofit Wisconsin Athletic Foundation hopes to raise $10 million to begin construction of the Wisconsin Regional Athletic Complex this fall. The 135,000-square-foot facility would then open next spring or summer. Indoor amenities would include a full-size field suitable for football, lacrosse, baseball or softball; an extreme climbing wall; a CrossFit gym; classrooms; and batting cages. Outdoor plans call for five multipurpose synthetic turf fields with spectator seating, along with two turf baseball diamonds.
For residents of east Madison and Dane County who are tired of hearing how "the west side is the best side," this could be only the beginning, according to Neil Stechschulte, Sun Prairie's economic development director.
"Several potential indoor sports facility projects are currently being considered for Sun Prairie," he told The Star, the city's twice-weekly newspaper. "These have come forward building on the opening of the Sun Prairie Ice Arena, the expansion of Prairie Athletic Club and the construction of top-rated athletic facilities at Sun Prairie High School."
If approval and funding by the Sun Prairie Plan Commission come through, the WRAC will be near Costco, Target, Woodman's, restaurants and a 12-screen Marcus Theatres complex opening later this year. It might be enough to convince west-siders that the east side is no longer the least side.