Ambitious Goal

Madison Riverfront Development
raising money for riverfront project

Joint effort with Regatta would expand Judges’ Stand

(July 2020) – Without a doubt the heart of the Madison riverfront is the Regatta Judges’ Stand and its surrounding area. The boat ramp is full of action during the summer, with boats being launched into the river. Across the street is the new playground for all children and Madison Bicentennial Park, where movies and concerts take place all summer, except during this “Year of the Virus.” And let’s not forget the public restrooms with free Wifi.
In mid-June, the Madison Riverfront Development Committee announced plans for a new massive Judges’ Stand to replace the current one, along with a new supersized overlook. The Madison Redevelopment Commission was presented the plan by J.D. Webster of the Riverfront Development Committee and Matt True, president of Madison Regatta.

Madison Regatta

Photo by Don Ward

The current Regatta Judges’ Stand is pictured above.

“Officially, this is going to be another large overlook,” said Webster. The plans call for it to be two tiered, with seven rows of seating on both sides that stretch for 240 feet. The actual Regatta Judges’ Stand will be increased by six times the original size, to 4,800 feet of working space.
“We listened carefully to what Matt and the Regatta committee said they needed, for let’s face it, the Regatta is the most important event that takes place in the city,” Webster said.
When asked why he is so dedicated to his position on this committee, Webster enthusiastically replied, “Like a number of the members of this committee, I am a native of this town and love it dearly. I had to leave for a period of my life to pursue my career, but when I had a chance to come back, I was excited.” Webster is now a sales manager for a heath care company based in Ohio and serves as treasurer-secretary on the Riverfront Development Committee’s board.
John Bruns, vice president of the Riverfront Development Committee, said, “The overlook will have the same design of our other overlooks but will be supersized. This will make it possible to have other events on it, like weddings and concerts.”
Bruns has lived in Madison for most of his life and started and runs his own business, Enviroscape Landscaping. When asked about future riverfront plans, Bruns said, “I don’t know if we will ever be done. We still have other projects that we would like to do.”

J.D. Webster

True, who works as a fireman at Dow Corning in Carrollton, Ky., is in his third year serving as the Madison Regatta president. “This is something that we have needed for a long time. It seems like every year we need more and more operating space to run the boats and to put on a quality show. And now we have actual drawings, and we had a very good meeting with the Redevelopment Commission.”
When asked about his years as president, True said, “Each year has had its challenges, from high water to now the virus. The cancellation of this year’s event was an especially hard decision to make. The uncertainty of everything was what made it tough. No one knew what toll the virus was going to take and how long it was going to last. We were coming up to dates when non-refundable deposits were going to have to be made. We had to know that if we went on with it that our fans would come to the event. And also we had to be sure that our sponsors didn’t get hurt. In light of all that has happened, I feel like we made the right decision.”
True noted that for the hydro racing fans, the organizers for the Madison Vintage Thunder exhibition event that occurs in the fall are still planning to hold their event.
Matt Wirth, a city advisor to the five-member Redevelopment Commission, sat in on the presentation by the Regatta committee and said he was very impressed. “They had all their facts and drawings and plans for raising the funds needed for the project,” said Wirth.  “It was exciting to envision the effect this overlook will have on our riverfront.”

Matt True


“By the time everything is done, this project is going to take close to a million dollars to complete,” noted Webster. “To show our commitment to the project, we have invested $70,000 in engineering and design fees. To raise this amount of money, we are going to have a variety of funding sources.”
True said he is hoping that $100,000 will come in from the state’s motorsport fund. The governor supports the Madison Regatta and calls it the third tier in Indiana racing after the 500 and Brickyard, True noted.
One glitch in that plan may be that Indiana’s revenue has been affected greatly by the virus, and that could affect the availability of funds.   
Webster said, “We will be reaching out to all sorts of organizations to help fund the project. As with all of the overlooks, the naming right is one of the big fundraisers for its completion. We are still selling bricks with names on them so everyone in the community can have some part in making this dream come true.”             

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