Playing Fields, 1913—


 

 

Batavia

East Batavia High School and West Batavia High School united in athletics in 1909. There are references to early playing fields on the east side—including the “east side grounds” (1907)—and west side of Batavia—including the west side grounds on McKee street" (1909) and the “west end of Houston street” (1910)—as well as “on the Island” (1896), all of which were used by the community as well as the high schools for a variety of sports. The playing field “on the Island” was located on the site of the present Batavia Government Center (the former Appleton Manufacturing Company factory).

 

West Side Grounds, 1913–1924

There were various fields on Batavia’s west side, including a “west side grounds on McKee street” and another at the “west end of Houston street.” Based on maps of the era, the City of Batavia generally ended at Van Nortwick Street on the west side of town. This history of football fields in Batavia is not yet complete.

Batavia Field, 1924–1946 /

Memorial Field, 1946–1968

In 1921, the Board of Education purchased about 9 acres of land from the McKee estate (for $6,300) for a permanent athletic field.—Batavia Herald, Tuesday, 3 November 1921, p. 1

Batavia’s new athletic field was developed for $15,000 at Illinois Avenue and Jackson Street. Its dedication on Saturday, 27 September 1924, included a flag-raising ceremony, music by the East Aurora High School band,[1] and a football game with Dundee, which was won by Batavia, 25–0.

Batavia Field was renamed Memorial Field on 27 July 1946.—“Batavia dedicated the new Memorial Athletic Field in honor of her World War II veterans.”—Batavia Herald, Friday, 2 August 1946

This site is now part of the Batavia Park District, and is known as Memorial Park.

Bulldog Stadium, 1968—

A new Batavia High School opened on the far west side of Batavia in 1966, and its athletic field opened in September 1968. Now called Bulldog Stadium, the name may have varied (it was called Batavia Stadium in some earlier sources).

 The playing field at Bulldog Stadium was converted in 2016 to FieldTurf®, 

 an artificial turf system, featuring CoolPlay, an infill system composed of

 crumb rubber, sand, and extruded cork composite (ECC)

  

Geneva

There are references to early playing fields—such as “Mann’s field north of town” (1896), “the Wheeler grounds” (1897), “Richard’s pasture on South First Street” (1898), “field west of city” (1901), a new athletic field on a “portion of the Herrington farm, just north of the O’Brien place, on Anderson boulevard” (1902), and “the Batavia avenue grounds” (1908)—which were used by the community as well as the high school for a variety of sports.

 

1913–1922

Until the development of Burgess Field, Geneva had at least two—and probably more—athletic fields in the era from 1913 to 1921 (see below). This history of football fields in Geneva is not yet complete.

Cory Field (1917)

The Batavia–Geneva game in 1917 was played at Cory Field in Geneva.—Geneva Republican, Saturday, 6 October 1917, p. 4

Cory Field was located north of the present location of the Geneva Country Club, on the former “fairground property,” which was purchased by Dr. John H. Cory in 1892.—Geneva, Illinois: A History of Its Times and Places. Edited by Julia M. Ehresmann. Geneva, Ill.: Geneva Public Library District, 1977, pp. 329–330

The exact location of Cory’s property was south of the intersection of State Street and Kaneland Road, extending from the west end of James Street, which (in 1892) ended at Ninth Street, to the west line of Section 3, Township 39 North, Range 8 East of the 3rd Principal Meridian, and north of the Hiram McChesney property (now the Geneva Country Club).—Atlas of Kane County, Illinois. Chicago: D. W. Ensign & Co., 1892, p. 50

Kelly Field (1918)

Kelly Field was located on the east side of Geneva, along the south end of Nebraska Street.

Burgess Field [1], 1922–1974

In 1921, the Board of Education purchased 4 blocks of land from Grote and Carlisle (for $6,000) for a permanent athletic field.—“The Land Purchase by the High School,” Geneva Republican, Friday, 12 August 1921

A new athletic field was developed in the Pleasant View Addition to Geneva, north of Ford Street and west of McKinley Avenue, nestled between what is now the Geneva Community High School (opened in 1958 at 415 Logan Avenue) and the former site of Coultrap Elementary School (opened in 1923 as the old high school at 1113 Peyton Street; razed in 2013). The address of Geneva Community High School is now 416 McKinley Avenue.

The field was dedicated on Saturday, 7 October 1922.—Geneva Republican, Friday, 13 October 1922

The new athletic field was named in honor of Frank A. Burgess, who passed away on Saturday, 13 May 1922. Burgess was the first president of Geneva High School District No. 149—which became part of Geneva Community Unit School District 304 in 1952—and founder of Burgess-Norton Manufacturing Company.

Bleachers (1924)—Bleachers with a seating capacity of 400 were bought at a cost of approximately $500 and installed at Burgess Field. “A nominal charge of 15 cents for a seat on the bleachers will be made until enough money is collected to pay off the loan.”—Aurora Beacon-News, Tuesday, 30 September 1924, p. 12; Geneva Republican, Friday, 3 October 1924

In 1936, Geneva Community High School used a “temporary field north of the regular high school gridiron which is being rebuilt and improved as a WPA project. The temporary field is just 100 yards long from goal to goal and the officials were obliged to set the ball back when either team reached the ten yard line.”—Geneva Republican, Friday, 9 October 1936

Bleachers (1942)—A donation by the Burgess-Norton Manufacturing Company provided a new 1,200-seat facility (“grandstand”), which was dedicated on 3 October 1942.

Additional Improvements (1946)—“The improvements which have been made this summer consist of a lighting system [designed by the General Electric Company], a public address system, and an enclosing wall to shut out the wind from the bleachers,” which were made possible by a $7,000 gift from the Burgess-Norton Manufacturing Company.—Geneva Republican, Friday, 20 September 1946

Logan Field

The Herald reported (erroneously) that the Batavia–Geneva game in 1973 was played at Logan Field in Geneva.—The Herald, Wednesday, 24 October 1973, p. 26

      Coach Jerry Auchstetter verified that all of Geneva’s home football games (through 1974) were played at Burgess Field [1].

According to Kurt N. Wehrmeister, longtime public address announcer for Geneva Community High School, the 33-acre site south of Gray Street, between Logan Avenue (to the east) and Maple Lane (to the west) was generally known as “Logan Field,” and was used for physical education classes until developed for athletic venues.

Logan Field was the original name given to Burgess Field [2], as reported in the Geneva Chronicle: “New football facilities will be located at Logan Field.”—Geneva Chronicle, Wednesday, 26 February 1975

Burgess Field [2], 1975—

Geneva’s new (and current) athletic field at 1450 Gray Street at Maple Lane was dedicated on Friday, 19 September 1975, and continued the name, Burgess Field.—“New Burgess Field Dedicated: Vikings Have Night Football.” The Herald, Wednesday, 24 September 1975, p. 1

The playing field at Burgess Field was converted to FieldTurf®, an in-filled artificial turf system, in 2012.

 

[1]The first student band at Batavia High School was started in 1927, under the direction of Paul C. Shelly, a student at North Central College (in Naperville, Illinois). The band first played at a football game in 1929.