Located in the shadow of the Wisconsin State Capitol, Breese Stevens Field has an unmistakable aura about it.
Built in 1925, the Forward Madison stadium is reminiscent of old venues that dot many small towns across Europe. While improvements have been made, the original look and feel remains.
Just like they did nearly 100 years ago, fans entering Breese Stevens pass through a beautiful stone wall that encircles the field. Once inside, the original grandstand and concrete bleachers seat the majority of fans. Now fitted primarily for soccer, it’s hard to imagine the site once hosted everything from marble tournaments to NFL games.
“It has that old England feel to it,” shared Grant Pieters, one of the members of The Flock supporters group.
Years ago, Grant lived in London and worked just steps away from one of the most historic soccer venues in the world – Fulham’s Craven Cottage. While he acknowledges there is no competition when it comes to the history of his two favorite teams, he is still quick to point out the unique experience at Forward Madison matches.
He explained, “Breese Stevens Field is our version of the small town stadiums people visit in England. And that translates into the culture we have built here in Madison, rooted in a lot of what you’ll find in Europe.”
Along with the history of their home stadium, The Flock supporters pride themselves on a unique gameday atmosphere.
Unlike many of their U.S. soccer counterparts, you won’t hear negative chants inside Breese Stevens. You also won’t hear hateful banter directed to the opposing players. Or at the home team for that matter.
Instead, it’s a party for 90 minutes.
“Since day one, we wanted to build a supporter culture and matchday experience that was positive and carefree,” explained Andrew Schmidt, President of The Flock. “Historically, Madison is more known for its college football and isn’t necessarily a big soccer city, so we have worked hard to create a welcoming space for diehard supporters and casual fans alike.”
True to their brand, supporters come decked head to toe in pink, blue, and flamingo-themed attire. Seriously, to say the Madison faithful embrace the colors and crest would be an understatement. Don’t be surprised to find the person next to you wearing a full-on flamingo suit and hat if you ever have the privilege of attending a Forward Madison home match.
Once the whistle blows, the energy from The Flock End of the stadium is infectious. Even when the rest of the stadium isn’t full, the supporter section is built so that everyone is packed together. Every beat of the drums reverberates off the metal bleachers and the noise coming from The Flock End builds with each new song. As a neutral, it’s hard not to join in.
“Knowing that people are coming to Breese Stevens Field not just to see the team but also to experience The Flock and the energy that we create, it adds that much more gravity to what we’re doing,” shared Grant.