Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
On Friday, August 29, I will tape InterCHANGE at Milwaukee Public television Channel 10, like any other Friday, and when the taping is concluded, I will change from suit and tie into far more comfortable clothes and head to historic South Stadium near 10th and Windlake on Milwaukee’s south side.
I recall local historian and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist John Gurda having once written in booklet on Milwaukee’s south side side that South Stadium is one of the oldest facilities in the city of Milwaukee, period. I’ve been crawling around the stadium for 40 years, initially as a fan whose father who took tickets let his little boy inside so he could watch games. I graduated to ticket taker, security, chain gang member and finally to public address announcer, a duty I’ve proudly served since the mid 70’s.
Friday, August 29th, West Bend West will play Milwaukee South Division in a who-cares, non-conference football match-up. I will arrive and head to the entrance gates. Security guards who know me will not subject me to the obligatory metal detector test.
I will make my way up to the South Stadium press box situated on the north end of the stadium, across from the bleacher seating on Becher Street. No one is allowed to sit on the press box side of South Stadium. It was condemned decades ago. Too many people in the stands could cause a collapse. MPS has done nothing in more than two decades to remedy the situation.
As I walk through the stands that used to be packed with thousands of fans every Friday and Saturday in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, I walk over rocks, stones, broken glass. When I walk the numerous steps up to the press box and take my seat inside, the ancient facility is filthy, dusty, dirty. The windows, if the gangs haven’t broken them, haven’t been washed in ages.
Will the PA work without an annoying buzz? Fingers are crossed.
The bathrooms are atrocious. The locker rooms are spartan, at best, for the teams and officials. The South Stadium crew, veterans all, know just about every official and coach who’s ever walked inside the stadium gates. The visitors know they will be treated royally, albeit in a once hallowed ballpark that is now a neglected toilet.
The games go on, fans who’ve never been to South Stadium marvel at the red brick structure unlike any other in the area, but those of us who’ve been kicking around the old place know this is an old gray mare that ain’t what it used to be.
So where am I going with this?
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week has written a not so surprising series that MPS has spent millions and millions of dollars for empty classrooms. A total waste.
Meanwhile, I’ve trudged into South Stadium every year since 1965, for football and soccer. There were many days and nights the stadium was overflowing. There were many times the crowds were sparse. But there was always a crowd, huge or embarrassingly small. Historic South Stadium was NEVER, EVER empty, even during a blizzard on the last football night of the season one year back in the 80's between South and Muskego.
MPS will spend millions and millions of dollars on empty classrooms, yet it won’t spend a dime on a landmark, historic facility that actually draws people for one of the few areas the school district excels: athletics.
What can I say? That’s MPS.