Parts of Frederick’s Harry Grove Stadium may soon be named by corporate sponsors, but the stadium will continue to bear Grove’s name.
The city will hire Rockville-based Team Services to research the city’s lease agreement with minor league baseball’s Frederick Keys, as well as the potential value of naming rights for the stadium, or portions of it, such as entrance gates or the field itself.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen discussed the naming rights at a work session on Wednesday, during which Josh Russin, executive assistant to Mayor Randy McClement (R) and Chris Hudgins, the general manager of Team Services presented some potential options for the naming rights.
The contract with Team Services costs about $25,000.
Hudgins said the company has worked with other stadiums in the past that had a name they didn’t want to change, such as the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Instead, the company sold naming rights to the entrance gates at the field.
The University of Maryland in College Park has a similar arrangement, where the football team plays at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium.
Built in 1990, Harry Grove Stadium has been home to the Frederick Keys — a high-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles — who negotiated an additional 10-year lease with the aldermen last year at an annual rate of $100,000. The contract does not specify how the Keys and the city would split revenues from the sale of any naming rights.
The city and the team opted to negotiate those rights after approving the contract, but it has not been finalized, according to Russin.
The cost of exploring the naming rights is below the $30,000 threshold that allows McClement to approve the contract without a vote, so a formal vote was not needed. However, board approval would be needed to progress from the study to implementation.
The Keys had attendance of about 311,000 for the season, the highest since 2001, according to Adam Pohl, assistant general manager of the team. He said the team is in favor of the potential for increased revenue that would come with the naming rights, which could help pay for potential stadium upgrades.
“The biggest thing is this would not change the Grove name on the stadium,” Pohl said. “It’s something that can lead to future improvements to the stadium and provide revenues to continue to enhance and remain viable.”
The Grove family donated $250,000 to the city to help build the stadium, which was named it in honor of Harry Grove, who was one of the founders of the Frederick Hustlers, a professional team that played in the area from 1915 until World War II, according to published reports.
The city has previous agreements with the Grove family and the Loats Foundation for the naming rights to the stadium and the park where it is located.
All five members of the board except Alderman Karen Young (D), who worried about diluting the brand of Harry Grove Stadium and Loats Park, the home of the stadium complex, voiced their support at the work session for trying to find additional revenue at the facility.
“My concern is we don’t do justice to either our obligation to the Loats Foundation or the Grove family by inserting a third name,” she said. “You talked about branding — the best way to denigrate a brand is to throw in another name.”
Young also said she was in favor of finding additional revenue at the stadium, but not necessarily through naming options.
Alderman Kelly Russell (D) said many of Frederick’s residents refer to the stadium simply as “Keys’ Stadium,” rather than its formal name, so it would be worthwhile for the city to search for additional revenue.
Alderman Shelley Aloi (D) also said she was in favor of selling portions of the stadium for additional revenue.
“With regard to the third name, I don’t have an issue with naming a field at Harry Grove Stadium,” she said.