Orioles 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 prior to 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.
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, local baseball and serves as the home of Hood College baseball.
Harry Grove Stadium is also doing well in terms of attendance, as the Keys are one of the higher attended teams in the Carolina League and all of Single A baseball.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The choices are pretty sound here with food found at a variety of stands such as Bullpen BBQ, Hot Corner BBQ, and Dugout Dogs. Hot dogs are sold at a decent price of $4. The Family Meal Deal offers 4 hot dogs and 4 drinks for a reasonable $26. Soda prices run $3.75-$5 around the park.
Angus Grill is a standalone stand that has $9 angus burgers and $9 sausage sandwiches. They are a bit costly, but very large and filling.
Families should consider the Fun Zone Kids Meal available past the right field seats. For $5 the kids can enjoy a hot dog, drink and prize. Single hot dogs can also be bought for $2 here.
Keys Creamery offers a good value helmet sundae for $6. Kids will always love this treat that comes served in a take home souvenir.
The Brewer's Alley stand has specialty beers starting at $5.75 and up as well as wine for $6 and 16-ounce domestic cans for $6. Local beer brewer Flying Dog is also available at a couple of locations at the same prices.
One major problem with the food concessions at Harry Grove Stadium is that only the main stands take credit cards. There is an ATM on the concourse, but the team really needs to update the concessions so that all locations take credit cards.
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 right field and a small video board in left field. Between the two, they do a good job of detailing all the information one needs to follow the game action. Sound from the PA system does not travel well to the lawn seating areas.
The Keys 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 new mascot associate Frank Key. According to the team website, Frank Key is part of a Keys Fan Club for adults called "Frank Keys Army." The free club will offer those who enlist free gifts along with deals for concessions and merchandise and special opportunities throughout the season.
Nothing is really 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. Bryan Voltaggio finished second to his brother, Los Angeles based Michael Voltaggio, on the sixth season of Top Chef, Bravo's cooking competition show. Bryan has a few restaurants downtown that are sure to please the palate. You can eat for a reasonable price at his welcoming Family Meal at 880 North East Street or go high end at Volt (228 North Market Street).
Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery, one of the beer providers in the stadium has a location at 24 North Market Street if you are on the lookout for a local brewpub.
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 a 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.
Beef O'Brady's, the Florida-based family sports restaurant and pub has a location also nearby at 956 Crestwood Boulevard. They offer the usual assortment of sandwiches, burgers, and wings, but in a family friendly environment.
Hilton Garden Inn Frederick at 7226 Corporate Court may be the best local lodging option.
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 to capacity on most nights. It still has a consistent fan base in attendance. Early in the season, when the weather is still cold, is the only time that the numbers get low.
There are numerous promotion nights for the Keys so expect that a Fireworks night or a popular giveaway item will increase attendance. Also keep an eye out if an Orioles player is using Frederick as their base for an injury rehab assignment. Numbers will swell when a known name player is on the field.
I-70 is literally 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 from 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.
The prices are pretty high for this level of baseball. Tickets for field seating, reserved seating and general admission are $14, $12 and $11, respectively. You can save $2 per ticket level if you buy ahead of the time.
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." The team name, obviously, comes from this historic figure.
This is the park that started the concourse viewable trend that is now common place 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.
The Frederick Keys and their staff go out of their way to make Harry Grove Stadium a place that both the casual and hardcore baseball fan can be entertained and enjoy a quality game experience.
Harry Grove Stadium is the home of the Frederick Keys, Single A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Opened in 1990, it has hosted an All Star game, concerts and professional wrestling.
As far as minor league baseball goes, it's kind of average.
Enjoy making the trip to Harry Grove. Easy to get to and good sight lines. Not many thrills, but a good family park. Enjoyed a SkyBox for a game which was nice but nothing really extraordinary. Overall a good park to watch future O's.
My parents are partial season ticket holders for the Frederick Keys, so I decided to join them on 9/1/2012. I'd been to the stadium a couple times, but not in a few years.
Food & Beverage: Standard Ball Park fair. Prices were reasonable for a ball park. Staff was friendly and helpful.
Atmosphere/Fans: The atmosphere was pretty good. The park was clean...pretty much no nonsense baseball. Haven't seen a park with bleachers in a while...I'm glad I bought a seat. This is as close to no-nonsense baseball as I've seen in a while. The ushers show you to your seat and clean it off for you...a nice, classy touch.
The big screen could use an upgrade. It's comically small compared to other stadiums I've seen, including regional Atlantic League teams (York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers).
Fans are there to see a baseball game. The stadium was pretty full that night. Points for that, Frederick!
Neighborhood/Access: Neighborhood is fine. Parking is ample, and free. It's very easy to get to from the major highways, but you will have to drive.
Return on Investment: For me, high, because I got to enjoy it with my parents. In general though, there are probably better parks in the region to go to. If you're in Frederick though, it's definitely worth the price.
Extras: There weren't many extras...except meeting Rudy (yeah, that Rudy) who was there that night signing autographs. The key jingle is cute, as is the weird soybean competition...
As I said in the comments, I was an intern here for the 2009 season and then came back for a game in 2012. I thought it was a great experience. There's obviously a different feeling than if you went to Camden or Nationals Park but that's not bad; it's a more cozy, personal feeling. The Keys and the Keyote mascot try to get everyone involved. Not to mention that with only a few thousand people there at most each game, you always have a chance at catching a foul ball!
And I haven't been to any other minor league park for a long time so I don't know if $11 for general admission is high or not. It seems to have definitely gone up the past few years, but I'm sure it's not the only place that has. They also run fun promotions, one where if you buy a ticket to a game and the Keys lose that night, you get to attend another weekday game for free.
They always run promotions and it's easy to get to. I never tried traveling around Frederick so I do doubt there's much to do there but to watch minor league baseball where the organization does care about the fans, Harry Grove is a good place to go.
Established in 1989, the Frederick Keys have served as the Class A affiliate for the Baltimore Orioles for over twenty years. The ‘Keys’ nickname, likely a unique one throughout all major sports, is a homage to poet Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and poet most famous for writing the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1814. Located about 50 miles west of Baltimore, the Keys are a four-time champion of the eight-team Carolina League, the most recent title coming in 2011.
The Keys earned a different ‘title’ of sorts in 2012, though that likely made the front office very happy; the highest average attendance in the entire league. The Keys play at Harry Grove Stadium, which was opened in 1990 and of which the Keys have been the one and only tenant. Currently holding 5,500 seats, the Keys averaged about 86% capacity in Harry Grove Stadium in 2012, a great sign for a minor league organization that rests in Maryland’s eighth-largest city. What keeps the fans coming back? From what I experienced at the game, the return visits seem to be driven by a family-friendly atmosphere and a great concession selection.
A very nice stadium. It's just the right size for the Keys. The fans were happy to be there. The downtown Frederick area is very nice and there are some good restaurants. I recommend the Black Hog barbecue which has cheap, but very good BBQ.
My first time to Kauffman Stadium after renovations was not a good experience. I was amazed at how confusing getting from one side of the stadium to the other was, as there seems to be a ridiculous amount of staff that check your ticket every 10 steps that you take. Don't expect to eat for less than $20 a person, and beers are $10.50. What happened to good family fun, that didn't have to break the bank?
I attempted to attend a Frederick Keys game. I went early in the day and purchased my ticket. They allowed me to enter the stadium and check out the stadium way before game time (very nice). I visited the cemetery across the street and saw the Francis Scott Key memorial. As game time approached, the skies turned grey and it began to rain. I entered the stadium fully expecting the game to be played, although the tarp was still on the field. I mulled around enjoying the atmosphere , the fans, and even placed a bid on a game worn hat. It was all good.
After two hours, they did call the game and it was postponed to several weeks in the future.
This is where it turns to sour. I approached a customer service rep and asked about getting a refund. Quite curtly (with no perception of warmth whatsoever) I was told they only do exchanges for future game tickets. I explained I was from out of state and only there for the one game and received the same unfriendly answer. With this encounter I did not get any impression that they appreciated me attending or being there. So, I will not revisit this stadium in future ballpark journeys.
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Frederick, MD 21701
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