South Field 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.
Gerald R. Ford connection
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 Public Use
The South Field site appears to be used as part of a flood control system. The field is formed into an elongated bowl form. It is landscaped and maintained. However, it is fenced in and kept locked. It is a curious site to see public land fenced from the public. Why can't the space serve its utility function and be open green space for citizens?
Perfect Spot for a Velodrome
This space would be a perfect spot for a velodrome. The land is already shaped to accommodate most of the structure. (maybe due to the fact that it was a stadium for football or maybe as part of it's current use as an overflow for water accumulation). The east end could be used for one straight side. The two curved turn sides are already in place too with the banks. The only side that needs to be added is the other straight.