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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park - Gaithersburg Giants




Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29

Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park 400 Victory Farm Ln Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 500

 

Summer Collegiate Baseball in DC

The Gaithersburg Giants are one of six teams in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, a collegiate summer wood bat league in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, and play their home games at Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park. Kelley Park is currently a town park but is in the process of being converted to an elementary school. Although this should not affect the stadium in the long term, the effects of construction will be noticeable if visiting a Giants game at the moment as the field is surrounded by it.


Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand located out of a window behind home plate. The stand serves basic items like hamburgers ($5, or $5.50 with cheese), hot dogs ($3.50), nachos ($3.50), and various snacks which range from 25 cents to a dollar. Water and soda are available for $1 or Gatorade for $1.50. Combos are available with a meal item, chips, and a drink which can reduce the price a bit. The concession stand is cash only so come prepared. Additionally, it typically does not open until right before the game starts, so be prepared for that as well.


Atmosphere 2

There are four small sets of bleachers at Criswell Automotive Field similar to what you would see at a Little League stadium. All but one of them are behind the backstop, which is a black chain link fence that can be hard to see through. There is one set of bleachers down the first baseline with a relatively unobstructed view. The third base side is shadier in the afternoons and early evenings, but also has an obstructed view of the scoreboard which is located down the left field line.


Other than the game, there is not a whole lot going on here. The team will play music in between innings or batters but doesn’t do much else. It is a barebones experience. The one perk of that is that you can hear just about everything that happens on the field. Whether it’s the umpires asking for more balls or the dugouts chirping after a bad call, you can hear just about everything that is said.


Neighborhood 3

Kelley Park is located in a residential area, which makes sense as it is (for now) a neighborhood park, but this also means there is not much to do in the immediate vicinity. Your best bet is to head into town where you will find a lot of things to do, both chain restaurants and local. Most of the good options are on the other side of I-270. Coastal Flats is a favorite restaurant locally known for its seafood and steak, and the Old Town Pour House is a top-notch pub, but all of these are quite a ways from the stadium so you will need to drive.


Fans 2

The Giants typically have about 50 fans a game, 100 if they’re lucky. Sadly, this is consistent with most of the CRCBL. However, those fans who do show up are extremely loyal, and most of them are either the players’ real families or host families. Many of them go to just about every game throughout the whole season. As a result, they can be quite passionate. Sadly, the Giants don’t seem to draw much more than this. It would be nice if the Giants could draw from a wider pool of fans, but unfortunately, few who have no connection to the team even know they exist.


Access 2

First, the easy part. To get to Kelley Park, take I-270 to I-370, then take that for about a mile, and Kelley Park is about two more miles off the highway. Unfortunately, once you get to the park, the access becomes a lot more complicated. The normal lot is currently being used as staging for construction vehicles to build the new elementary school, so fans are unable to park there. There is a small gravel lot right next to the stadium that involves driving down a long gravel path, but that fills up very quickly as it is where the players park so you will need to arrive very early if you want to park there.


Additionally, the lot is in foul territory, so park at your own risk. If you choose not to park in this lot, you will need to park on the street. Victory Farm Lane is the road right outside the stadium, but all legal spaces on this road may be taken when you arrive. If so, you will need to park on one of the back roads near the stadium. Just be mindful of where it is legal to park and where it isn’t or you could get ticketed or even towed.


If walking in from the street, you will need to walk down a narrow pedestrian path to avoid dealing with cars coming to and from the lot. Once you are at the field itself, it’s easy enough to get around. The restrooms are small but of sufficient size for the small crowds that normally show up.


Return on Investment 4

Admission to all Giants regular-season games is free, and concessions are affordable. There’s no charge for street parking in Gaithersburg, so you don’t have to worry about that either. However, there simply isn’t enough here to earn the top rating for this score.


Extras 1

There are free roster sheets available at the concession stand. That’s about the only extra here.


Final Thoughts

Most in the D.C. area don’t even know the Cal Ripken League exists. Those that do generally are those with some connection to one of the teams. Sadly, the Gaithersburg Giants are no exception and a visit to Criswell Automotive Field is very barebones. There are Little League fields that have more to offer. That being said, it’s a chance to see potential future stars of the majors for no cost at all, and it’s hard to argue with that opportunity. While it would be nice to see the Giants attract more fans from Gaithersburg, a game at Criswell Automotive Field is still worth checking out if you are in the area.




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