Harry Grove Stadium

The front entrance to Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick.

As Frederick prepares to welcome the next iteration of the Frederick Keys, city officials remain intent on attracting a club with a connection to a major league franchise — a challenge that’s made more difficult by the condition of some of the facilities at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium.

The city’s mayor and aldermen will vote in early May on a new lease at the stadium for the Keys, as the team gets ready to begin its first season since losing its affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles and after missing all of last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new one-year lease would cut the team’s rent at the stadium in half, from $100,000 a year to $50,000, and determine options for the city or team to renew for three, one-year terms, among other details.

The 2021 Keys will play as a Major League Baseball Draft League franchise, with college juniors and seniors looking to show scouts what they can do ahead of the major league draft.

The Keys appeared on a list of 42 minor-league teams that could be contracted, as MLB looked to cut costs and improve pay and working conditions for players in a new Professional Baseball Agreement with its minor-league affiliates.

The league is similar to New England’s Cape Cod League and others, Keys’ out-going general manager Dave Ziedelis told the mayor and aldermen at a workshop Wednesday.

“It’s a very verifiable product,” he said.

Ziedelis is leaving to take over as the executive director of Visit Frederick.

The initial proposal for the new lease included an option for the Keys to renew the agreement for three, one-year terms, but Alderman Ben MacShane and several others said they would be more comfortable if the contract allowed either the city or the team the option to renew.

Alderman Roger Wilson and others said they would like to see another team affiliated with a major league club.

One obstacle could be the condition of some of the facilities at Nymeo Field, the “back of the house” areas for staff, vendors and others.

“We just lack a lot of the things here,” Ziedelis said.

MacShane said he doesn’t want the city’s long-term answer to be constantly looking for new leagues for the team to play in with a declining facility.

“I don’t want that to be the future that we settle for,” he said.

Alderman Derek Shackelford said having baseball in Frederick puts the city in a better position to attract an affiliated club.

Mayor Michael O’Connor said he considers the draft league as a stop-gap measure while the city figures out a plan to attract the next version of minor league baseball in Frederick.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter:

@RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(11) comments

gjthuro

putting the rent issue aside , I do not believe the facility is in decline and my family and I have enjoyed many games over the past years ...and it was one of the best attended teams in its league...many people enjoy baseball and why could not the field area be retro-fitted to have "concerts" there when the team is traveling ...its no big deal to assemble a bandstand in mid field with appropriate electrical needs for the musicians

Jane and Ed

[thumbup]

francesca_easa

All good comments, gjthuro. I saw Bob Dylan at the Keys Stadium years ago. It can be done again.

Travis Bickle

And now the truth that`s never found in print: The Keys were brought here by an arrogant, obnoxious mayor whose main goal was to bring baseball here at any cost.

The land, willed to the city by Loat`s family to be used for orphan girls and children, was commandeered by Mayor "Know it all" to be uesd to enhance his profile. A sweetheart deal was given to the team owners so the city would lose money for years on the lease. Although it provided entertainment for many years in a town that long offered little else of the sort, It now has been taken away by a ruthless baseball commissioner who is even more arrogant and self important than the mayor who gave us the keys. Lessons to be learned: Never give your land to the public expecting they will use it as you wish when your gone. Never trust elected officials to do the right thing for the long haul. Their motives always revolve around re-election and keeping their name in the spotlight. Never trust a Harvard lawyer paid by billionaire team owners to care about your little town or the game many have loved for over a century.

Dwasserba

“MacShane said he doesn’t want the city’s long-term answer to be constantly looking for new leagues for the team to play in with a declining facility.” [thumbup] Yeah it’s not even interesting reading.

KG123456789

This space could be used for so many other things. Drop baseball dream and the pathetic lease of $50K to watch high school baseball players for a few weeks and let someone in the arts take over and make this an actual destination. I am sure all of the other small businesses downtown would love if their rent was cut in half! And people are actually going to their stores and restaurants! Frederick is missing so many opportunities to grow sitting on this lot. This would be a great location for so much potential. This space would be a great location for a music venue, a more permanent market such as cross street, a food hall, or more. Think about a way to make this profitable for the city. Give up on the baseball dream. Its over!

Piedmontgardener

Agreed - and I'm a former high level player. It's time to have this spot become a great outdoor music venue.

artandarchitecture

I agree w/ KG. Frederick needs a place for large concerts. This city is big enough to support it. It would save a drive to D.C., Baltimore, or VA.

Reader1954

so are the "back of the house" things that are fixable?

dk1977

I'm sure everything is fixable with money....

eastmoonrabbit

[thumbup]

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