Developers could buy, tear down Stadium Bar in Madison
Some regular customers want bar to stay open
A Minneapolis-based developer wants to buy and tear down the Stadium Bar near Camp Randall in Madison.
The plan to replace the popular game day hangout isn't sitting well with everyone.
Developers want to build a multistory apartment complex with commercial space and underground parking. It's not a done deal, but the prime real estate means the bar's estimated $1.2 million worth may outweigh any sentimental value.
Matt Mierta, a regular Stadium Bar customer, said he wasn't happy when he heard his favorite lunch stop could be sold and redeveloped.
"I don't like it at all. I think it sucks," Mierta said.
While the idea of redevelopment gets personal for many customers, general manager Tom Harberg said it will come down to a business decision.
"To me, business is always business, and I think that you have to keep looking at the opportunities that are out there," Harberg said.
The proposed design from the Opus Group would replace the restaurant with 100 apartments, a floor of commercial space and an underground parking lot.
But for some the building is more than a bar.
"There is a lot of history here. A lot of people have certainly shared the camaraderie of students as well as alumni here," Harberg said.
No matter how many memories, the city has little say in a potential sale.
"Essentially, it's the discretion of the owner, and the owner has said, 'I want to try and go in a new direction,'" said Alderman Scott Hesnick.
That new direction could take months of committee approvals and neighborhood meetings, but Hesnick said interest in the stadium space is a sign of more money in the city.
"We're seeing developers wanting to return to Madison. We're seeing developers wanting to put a shovel in the ground and build new projects here," Hesnick said.
There's already a "Save the Stadium" Facebook page with more than 1,500 people invited to a public meeting on the potential project set for 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 at Union South.
Harberg said a version of the Stadium Bar could be what fills the first floor of the proposed building.
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