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Fifth Third Ballpark

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[edit] History

Opening in 1994, Fifth Third Ballpark originally operated under the name Old Kent Park. Situated on 47 acres along the Grand River, Old Kent Park provided a venue for baseball to return to the Grand Rapids, MI area. Following the 1954 collapse of the AAGPBL and subsequent folding of the Grand Rapids Chicks, Kent County had been without professional baseball for 40 years. Arrangements had been made for the Madison Muskies of the Midwest League to relocate to Old Kent Park and the newly named West Michigan Whitecaps found a new and successful home.

In 2001, the Old Kent Bank was purchased by Fifth Third Bank. Subsequently the park was renamed "Fifth Third Ballpark".

2003 and 2005 saw a series of park improvements including the development of the "Miller Lite House Party Deck", which features a working light house to accent right center field.

On January 3, 2014, the ballpark was damaged significantly by a major fire. A section of the grandstand and concession area collapsed and were destroyed as the lack of nearby fire hydrants hindered firemen's ability to respond to the blaze. However, team management immediately announced that the park would be rebuilt in time for the start of the 2014 season. The fire was apparently caused by a space heater used by a work crew.

[edit] Unique Features

Fifth Third Ballpark features lawn, bleacher, grandstand, and box seating as well as luxury suites. With the exception of the suites which line the top of the stadium, seating at Fifth Third Ballpark is field level, and all sections provide close and intimate views of the game. There are also several party decks and areas available for rental for larger groups and corporations to view the game.

  • Light House: Located along at the Miller Lite House Party Deck, Fifth Third Ballpark features the only working Light House in baseball. The light goes off every time a Whitecap hits a home run. The light house was featured in a 2006 edition of "Light House Digest".
  • Waterfall:Built in the spring of 2006, the working waterfall which sits atop the left field lawn seats was designed by a local landscape architecture firm.

[edit] Odd Facts

  • Whitecaps staff shoot hot dogs to the crowd out of their air guns.
  • Fifth Third Ballpark serves roughly 125,000 hot dogs each season. (10 miles if laid end to end)
  • Fifth Third Ballpark serves 3,500 pounds of pork chops each season from their grill areas.
  • 6,000 gallons of Pop is served each season (1 gallon for every 100 guests, roughly double industry standard).
  • The Whitecaps feature live trumpet charges and cadences to rally the crowd.

[edit] Non- Baseball Events

  • Boxing at the Ballpark
  • Concerts (notable names have been Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and more)
  • Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournaments
  • Charity Softball Games
  • Carnivals
  • Red Cross Blood Drive
  • Charity walks and races (5Ks, 10Ks, etc.)
  • College / high school baseball games
  • 2006 featured opportunities to watch the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs over the video boards at the park.

[edit] Other Parks Featuring the Fifth Third Name

[edit] Related Links

West Michigan Whitecaps Home Page

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