York Town Square

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Small Field missed a shining moment but could again claim a ray of York County’s spotlight

The demolition of buildings in ‘the Swamp’ part of York in August 2006 to make way for the stadium opened a view of Small Field, right, background, across the Codorus Creek. At one time, Small Field was a stadium site option. Background posts: 10 years ago, York’s exclusive Lafayette Club became less exclusive, Part I, Old P.A. and S. Small building fit better than successors, Samuel Small tops list of community contributors and 1967 William Penn senior class scored firsts.

One of Bob Riese’s questions about York County touched on Small Field – officially Small Field at the Meadow.
Why isn’t it Small’s Field? he wondered.
Discussion on that point (Reader doesn’t understand some things about York County) led to an observation from another reader.
Luther B. Sowers, former assistant city schools superintendent, came across school board minutes showing the moment the field left the family of P.A. and S. Small and landed in the custody of the community… .

That came in 1914 when Henry Small bequeathed the field “for use of the children of York.”
How the field with its stadium used for district sporting events ended up in the school district’s hands is not clear.
But the district’s current custody brings us to a saga involving the field from a few years back when it was eyed as a site for a minor league stadium.
City leaders, looking for a stadium site, discussed placing it on Small Field and making it available for prep sports events.
The school board turned down that proposal, opting to renovate the field.
So Sovereign Bank Stadium grew up across the creek.
The school board’s decision left many wondering how a financially strapped district could turn down a bargain. It’s still a head scratcher.
And it moved action to the south side of the creek, leaving Small Field as a bit of an afterthought as the parking area for the stadium.
Small Field missed its moment.
Here’s community leader Tim Fulton’s explanation, in an op ed piece (4/27/03) appearing in the York Daily Record/Sunday News, of the stadium’s importance:

So it is more than baseball – the stadium is a community center – an anchor of urban activity, a common ground of recreation and culture, of business in dialogue with civic life. A place that expresses our community’s determination to excite, to inspire, to educate, to invite outsiders and to build pride and energy to daily life.
The stadium is one of the anchors of the vision to re-create our center city, foster economic vitality and inspire the sense of place that is uniquely York.

Small Field should gain back a little limelight when the rail trail extension between York and Rudy Park pokes through. Then, many hikers and bikers will gain a reason to enjoy the beautiful meadow.