Nymeo Field At Harry Grove Stadium – Frederick Keys
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium 21 Stadium Dr Frederick, MD 21703
Year Opened: 1990 Capacity: 7,027
In the Key of Fun
Oriole Park at Camden Yards sits 49 miles east of Frederick’s Harry Grove Stadium. But the two stadiums are much closer in terms of the influence that they have played on how baseball fields are designed since the early 1990s.
Even as late as when Harry Grove Stadium opened in 1990, most stadiums were built with an older design aesthetic in mind. Harry Grove Stadium was different, with a concourse where fans could watch the game while buying a hot dog or a beer. Family attractions such as game activities and a carousel were unheard of before the opening of this stadium.
Now the design elements, as well as the varied attractions, are the norm for minor and major league baseball stadiums. It was not the first stadium to have this design, but because of its links and physical proximity to Oriole’s stadium, it got much credit for a change in stadium design.
The Frederick Keys franchise began a year earlier in 1989, playing in local ballpark McCurdy Field, which had a claim to fame that it once was the host of a regular season Washington Redskins game in 1937. It was also a popular spring training field for the major and minor leagues during the 1940s.
One of the most famous games during that 1989 season at McCurdy, was the hotly anticipated first game by Orioles pitching prospect Ben McDonald, with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance. Currently, the field houses high school football, and local baseball and serves as the home of Hood College baseball.
The Frederick Keys formerly played as part of the Orioles organization as part of the Class A Carolina League. Currently, the Keys are a collegiate summer baseball team of the MLB Draft League. The Keys are based in Frederick, Maryland. The franchise is named for the "Star-Spangled Banner" writer Francis Scott Key, a native of Frederick County.
Food & Beverage 4
The choices are pretty sound here with food found at a variety of stands such as Bullpen BBQ, Hot Corner BBQ, and Dugout Dogs. Keys Creamery offers a good value helmet sundae. Kids will always love this treat that comes served in a take-home souvenir. There is a stand that has specialty beers as well as wine. Prices are reasonable at all stands in the stadium.
The design of the stadium is the norm now. The concourse is in full view of the field so that one can always stay engaged with the game action. This concourse is pretty small and would likely now be designed to be a bit bigger than what it is currently. It can be a tight squeeze moving around the concourse between and during innings.
I-70 is in the outfield view, but you cannot see it much because of the huge amount of ads that adorn the outfield walls. This would usually be a bad thing but is a plus when compared to a view of a major interstate highway. The ads, though, can make it difficult to differentiate between a home run and a ball bouncing off of the lower wall.
The Keys have a decent scoreboard in the right field and a small video board in the left field. Between the two, they do a good job of detailing all the information one needs to follow the game's action. Sound from the PA system does not travel well to the lawn seating areas.
The Keys's main mascot is Keyote who does a good job of entertaining the kids. He is not obtrusive to the more serious fan. Keyote may be joined by his mascot associate Frank Key.
Nothing is close to the stadium except a cemetery, a park, and a Costco. So you will need to drive to find anything else. Luckily shopping, lodging, and restaurants are abundant at nearby Francis Scott Key Mall and its surrounding area.
Downtown Frederick may offer the best choices. The surprising renaissance of downtown Frederick means that there is an ever-growing selection of restaurants and shopping in the area.
The Roy Rogers fast food chain is slowly disappearing from the region when it used to be ubiquitous. But the chain is still thriving around Frederick. You must stop in and have a Double-R-Burger, Gold Rush Chicken sandwich, or Roast Beef sandwich. Just don't forget to use the Fixin's Bar and get a holster of fries. A location is nearby the stadium at 301 Ballenger Center Drive.
The fans are probably pretty confused by the teams playing at Harry Grove Stadium. Do they support the Keys, now a college-level team, or the much higher level of the Atlantic League team? This gives the fans plenty of games to watch, but this also means it is spreading out the love a bit far.
The fans that sit right behind the plate are knowledgeable. Once you get out to the fringe parts of the park you may see the more casual fan. Harry Grove Stadium seems to make both types of fans feel right at home.
The Keys draw well, although the stadium is not 100% filled on most nights. Early in the season, when the weather is still cold, is the only time that the numbers will be very low.
There are numerous promotion nights for the Keys so expect that a Fireworks night or a popular giveaway item will increase attendance.
I-70 is right next door to the stadium. There have been improvements to the roads nearby the stadium so accessing the park is easy and quick.
Directional signs can be found on the highway. Parking is free and plentiful, even if you may have to park on the grass outside the stadium. You will not have an issue. The lot behind the right wall is usually the best option.
Return on Investment 3
The prices are good for this level of baseball. Tickets for field seating, reserved seating, and general admission can all be had for less than $15.
The Keys offer many other packages, special dates, and group incentives that make attending a game an even greater value.
Francis Scott Key is buried across the street. The lawyer and poet wrote the lyrics to the United States National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."
This is one of the parks that started the concourse viewable trend that is now commonplace in Minor League Baseball. So it is historic in a manner of speaking. Newer parks may have bigger concourses with even more choices, but this is the original.
If you have a family, Harry Grove Stadium offers many distractions for the children so that the baseball fan can stay involved in the game action. The Fanzone, past the right field seating area, is a nice place for families with children. There is even a carousel. The nearby lawn seating is also a nice addition that makes the game seem more leisurely.
Both teams and their staff go out of their way to make Harry Grove Stadium a place where both casual and hardcore baseball fans can be entertained and enjoy a quality game experience.