South Field and Smith Field (see below) is a significant site in the history and current status of Grand Rapids. Inquiry into the site and its varied forms and public uses through time provides material substance for some larger questions about the city. It was an athletic field in Burton Heights at Cottage Grove and Madison with central Geographic Coordinates at: 42.935045° N, 85.660508° WLatitude: 42°56′6.162″N
Longitude: 85°39′37.829″W
. It was the home field of South High School which is nearby at Jefferson and Hall streets. South High School was closed in the early 70's as part of the city's response to the challenges of desegregating its schools. It was also the home of "Smith Field" in the 40s and 50s and was the home field for the Grand Rapids "Chicks" who played in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).  The same league that was featured in the movie "A League Of Their Own."

Gerald R. Ford connection

As a member of South High School athletic teams President Gerald Ford played numerous times at South Field.

Grand Rapids Professional Football

South Field was also used by the Grand Rapids Blazers and the Grand Rapids Shamrocks of the United Football League, a professional league that operated in the midwest from 1961-1964. The Shamrocks won the UFL Championship in 1961 against the Columbus(OH) Colts at South Field. The Blazers won the UFL Championship in 1962 against the Indianapolis Warriors at South Field.

Current Ownership of Land

According to Kent County property ownership records, the land is currently owned by Extrusions Division, Inc.  They are located at 255 Cottage Grove Street SE.  However, the Silver Creek Drain District did file an action in court in 1994 to condemn the property for the public use as a stormwater retention basin.  An additional action was filed against Extrusions to allow the drainage authority to sue Extrusions should hazardous materials be found at the site.  In a 1997 bench trial concerning valuation, the court found that the value of the eight-acre parcel, if environmental concerns were ignored, was $278,800.   The court then determined that the parcel “was an environmentally contaminated site, with respect to which a reasonably prudent purchaser would have required, at a minimum, a formal Type-C Closure from the [Department of Natural Resources] as a condition precedent to closing.”

Because the court found that the reasonable cost of the Type-C closure was $237,768, it concluded that the net fair market value was $41,032.   The court entered an order to that effect and reiterated in the order that the once-escrowed $211,300 was awarded to Extrusions.


Women's Professional Baseball:

The eastern end of this property was once the home of Smith Field (1945-54). It was the home field of the Grand Rapids "Chicks" of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League.  The AAGPBL was  featured in the movie "A League of Their Own".  

In the photo links below please look for the building with the smoke stack.  It's visible in the background of the shot of the field during a game and is highlighted on the aerial photo as well as a current street shot today.  

According to Kent County property records, the land is privately owned by Extrusions Division, Inc. which is located at 255 Cottage Grove Street SE.   

Smith Field.JPG

Building across street.JPG

aerial view.JPG


South Field Current view from Madison StreetSouth Field with Couch seating. View from along Cottage Grove