Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Debate surrounds naming of UW-La Crosse’s football field

Debate surrounds naming of UW-La Crosse’s football field

by Cynthia Martens

News Reporter


In 2000, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse changed the name

of its football stadium from Veterans Memorial Stadium to Harring

Stadium, after recently retired football coach Roger Harring. Local

veterans were outraged, saying the name change violated the

agreement the city and university entered in 1988.

Coach Harring amassed the 12th-best record in college football

and won three national titles in 31 years at La Crosse. Also a

veteran, Harring initially requested that his name be dropped from

the stadium because of protests.

The history of the La Crosse stadium began just after World War


“How it came about was in 1945 or 1946, after World War II,

about 700-plus people petitioned for a place to honor veterans for

all the wars, from the Mexican War to World War I and World War II

and beyond,” Pat Houlihan, La Crosse city attorney, said. “The area

of the university in question was the community center going back

to 1880. People were developing a field for sports between the

Mississippi and the Bluffs. Normally when you honor veterans, you

try to do it where people can gather. It’s kind of a cemetery in

that sense. It’s just very emotional to veterans in La Crosse.

Obviously having the name taken down was very offensive to


In December 2000, veterans rejected the university’s proposal to

keep the name “Roger Harring Field” but also create a walkway with

historical depictions of America’s wars between Veterans Memorial

Monument and the stadium. In addition, the proposal would have

allowed UW-L, the city and a group of veterans to together create a

plaque that described the history of the stadium. The university

would have asked the city to consider naming local streets in honor

of veterans.

University officials said the goal is to honor veterans while

also recognizing the man who brought UW-L football national


The debate is as heated today as it was at the start.

“We’re still in litigation because we can’t agree. The

chancellor approved the name change a few years ago. The name is on

the stadium now. It’s just the argument over it that has not been

resolved,” Ed Alshuler, UW Legal System counselor, said.

When asked which name he thought would make more sense to future

generations living in La Crosse, Alshuler said the future was not a

concern in the naming of the stadium. “We’re not looking into the

future, we’re looking at what makes sense now,” Alshuler said.

Houlihan did not share this opinion.

“No one will remember who Coach Harring was years and years from

now. There will be another great coach. It’s not that Coach Harring

wasn’t any good. He had many accomplishments. But it’s more

important and more lasting to honor all veterans. In Chicago, they

were thinking of selling the naming rights of Soldier Field, but

the people of Chicago said no. That was in the news quite a bit,”

Houlihan said.

In nine years, the 25-year contract the veterans have will end

and the university will have full control of the naming rights of

the stadium. La Crosse Tribune editor John Smalley suggests that

the veterans and Houlihan should compromise with the university and

settle the case outside of court, saying that once the university

has the full naming rights, whatever is decided in court today

could eventually be revoked.



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