After 90 years, MPS says goodbye to old South Stadium

UPDATE: Photo gallery from Friday’s first game (Bay View vs. South Division) now appears below!

Stadium – and one of its longest-serving employees – to be honored Friday; replacement to be built

MILWAUKEE – In 1923, Milwaukee Public Schools’ South Division High School took on West Division High School in the first game to be played in a brand-new, red-brick stadium built in the heart of the city’s south side.

Ninety years later, South Division will return for the one of the last games to be played at the old South Stadium at 971 W. Windlake Avenue, Milwaukee 53204.

MPS will honor the stadium’s 90 years of service during the halftimes of each of the final two regular season games to be played there on Friday, October 18:
– Bay View at South Division, 4:30 p.m. start time, ceremony at halftime 
– Vincent at Bradley Tech, starting immediately following the Bay View/South Division game, ceremony at halftime

MPS' South Stadium in 1980 (Courtesy Mike Wetzel)

MPS’ South Stadium in 1980 (Courtesy Mike Wenzel)

Milwaukee Public Schools will replace the stadium with a new facility because MPS recognizes the critical role athletics play in providing the district’s growing number of students with a well-rounded education. Funding for the project will come from the proceeds of Qualified School Construction Bonds to be issued by MPS through the city of Milwaukee.

As MPS says goodbye to the old stadium, leaders will honor Mike Wenzel, who has been a part of South Stadium in one form or another since 1961.

Starting off as a junior high school student, Wenzel spent time there as a football player at the old Boys Tech High School, as a member of the chain crew, as a concessions seller, as a referee, as assistant stadium manager and as stadium manager.

“I would never do it differently,” he said.

Mike Wetzel (left) in 1982

Mike Wenzel (left) in 1982

Wenzel’s fondest memories include an estimated 10,000-plus fans packing the stadium as legendary Tech Coach Jimmy Richardson and the Trojans took on relative newcomer Madison in Richardson’s last varsity game.

Over the years, football, soccer and track competitors at the stadium included teams from Bay View, Boys Tech/Milwaukee Tech/Bradley Tech, Custer, East/Riverside, Hamilton, Juneau, King, Lincoln, Madison, Marshall/Morse•Marshall, North Division, Pulaski, South Division, Washington and West Division (now Milwaukee High School of the Arts).

Today, former players will often return to the iconic red-brick stadium – often to see their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews play, Wenzel said.


About Milwaukee Public Schools

Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district, is expanding college and career readiness efforts and continuing to implement innovative reforms that give every student the opportunity to succeed. MPS’ high-quality school options for 3-year-olds to high school seniors feature school climates in which positive behavior is reinforced; certified, highly-trained teachers; 21st-century learning technology for students; and curriculum aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which set a clear, high bar for the topics students must master at each grade level. MPS’ graduation rate is 14 points higher than the rate for the Class of 2000, its Class of 2013 earned $24 million in scholarships and the district is home to some of the state’s best high schools according to the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report.