When it opened in 1990, Harry Grove Stadium was state of the art when it came to things like suites and an open concourse. Today, despite some TLC from the city and the owners of the Frederick Keys in recent years, Harry Grove Stadium is now just a decent, well-run but low-key ballpark in a very good market.
Year Opened: 1990
Original Cost: $3 million
Owner: City of Frederick
Dimensions: 325L, 400C, 325R
Ticket Office: 301/815-9939
Ticket Prices (2010): Field Seating, $10; Reserved Seating, $9; General Admission, $8 adults/$5 seniors/children/military
League: Carolina League
Parent: Baltimore Orioles
Parking: Free and abundance in adjoining parking lot
Address/Directions: 21 Stadium Drive, Frederick, MD 21703. From Washington, DC: Take I-270 North to Frederick, MD, then take Exit 32 – Route 70 East to Baltimore. Take Exit 54 from Route 70 East, staying to the right on the ramp, and then turn right at second light onto Rt. 355/Market St. Turn left at the first traffic light onto New Design Rd., and then turn right into the parking lot on New Design Rd or continue to Stadium Drive and turn Right to park in the Stadium Drive parking lot. From Baltimore: Take I-70 west to Frederick. Take Exit 54 from Route 70 East, staying right on the exit ramp. Turn Left at the first light, Monocacy Blvd. Continue on Monocacy Blvd across Rt. 355/Market St. onto New Design Rd. Turn Right into the parking lot on New Design Rd or continue to Stadium Drive and turn Right to park in Stadium Drive parking lot.
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The layout of Harry Grove Stadium should be familiar to anyone entering a minor-league ballpark built in the last decade or so: fans enter from a main entrance directly to an extended concourse; the grandstand is built into the side of a hill, so the concourse declines to a seating bowl and then the playing field. True, there’s no wraparound concourse here (though one could be easily added), but the layout is thoroughly modern.
And pretty basic. There’s nothing particularly fancy about Harry Grove Stadium, though we think GM Dave Ziedelis and his staff do with the best with the cards they’re dealt. You have your basic seating bowl, with fans entering from the back. The ballpark sightlines are great; it’s an intimate place, and games tend to be low-key affairs, with just enough between-innings shenanigans to keep your interest. The concourse is a busy area during the game, with the concessions the draw. (Picnic tables down the left-field line make for a fine place to watch the game, and you’re closer to the beer.) The concession stands, modernized in recent years, are varied and offer some tasty treats (courtesy of concessionaire Ovations Food Service). Access is easy, and parking is free. Still, there’s no signature ballpark feature past the food offerings, and the whole architectural scheme is in sore need of an update.
As noted, Keys games tend to be low-key affairs, perfect for the whole family. Frederick is a great market and always worth a visit, and the ballpark is always worth a visit.
Frederick has turned into a foodie Mecca of sorts; Top Chef winner Bryan Voltaggio is a local restaurateur and there’s a thriving food scene downtown. Not surprisingly, the food offerings from the Keys are above average. Being in Maryland, crab dip, a crab-cake sandwich and a crab pretzel are available at the Crab Shack stand. The Home Plate Favorites features dingers (boneless chicken drummies) and fries, Helmet Fries (served in a miniature batting helmet, covered with chili and cheese) and corndog nuggets. Those with larger appetites will want to check out the Angus Grill, where half-pound Angus burgers and third-pound sausages are served fresh off the grill. Tap beers from the downtown Brewer’s Alley – Kolsch, Pilsner, and a very good Nut Brown – can be found at a dedicated stand.
FOR THE KIDS
A Fun Zone down the right-field line features a carousel and plenty of bouncy houses and the like. It’s $1 per ride.
BEFORE THE GAME
Head early to the ballpark to visit the gravesite (and impressively large marker) of Francis Scott Key, the composer of our National Anthem. Key was a Frederick native and is buried in the large cemetery across the street from the ballpark.
AFTER THE GAME
Downtown Frederick bustles with restaurants and bars. If you haven’t had enough beer at the game, drop by Brewer’s Alley (124 North Market Street) for a sampler. Go for the house specialty, the 1634 Ale, a rye-based ale representative of the ingredients (molasses, malted wheat, caraway) available in colonial Maryland.
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