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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Nails’ Tales sculpture has stood outside Camp Randall since 2005, but now the campus landmark faces an unknown future.

Fate of controversial campus landmark remains undecided

Nails’ Tales, the towering sculpture of footballs standing just outside Camp Randall, may soon be non-existent as UW-Madison makes plans to renovate the area around the university landmark. 

Installed in 2005, Nails’ Tales quickly became an iconic part of UW-Madison gameday. While walking into the football stadium, UW-Madison community members and visitors alike have gawked at the 50-foot statue for over a decade. 

The obelisk sculpture was created by UW-Madison alumni Donald Lipski and was meant to be a symbol of power and strength at the entrance to Camp Randall. However, during its time on campus it has sparked controversy. 

For years, local media outlets and commentators have debated whether the sculpture adds value to campus or if it should be removed, many agreeing with the latter. In 2011, one writer suggested the proper way to get rid of sculpture would be to “attach some dynamite to the base of the darn thing and launch it.” 

Now, nearly 15 years after its arrival to campus, the sculpture’s removal looks probable. 

An overview of the restoration plan to improve the plaza along the southwest side the UW-Madison Field House was shared at the city’s Joint Campus Area Committee meeting Wednesday. An aerial view of the proposed renovation did not show the Nails’ Tales sculpture. 

Currently the restoration of the Field House will include improving windows, doors and lighting as well as adding new landscaping, tiered seating and fencing to the outdoor plaza. If Nails’ Tales will remain on the plaza is undecided, however. 

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the sculpture,” Gary Brown, director of campus planning and landscape architecture, said in an interview with “It could stay. It could go. It could be relocated. We’re still talking about the whole thing.”

The restoration plans, including the fate of the campus landmark, are set to be finalized later this spring. 

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