Down on the Farm: “Security and Elevation” in Colorado Springs

This is the fifth post in my 2012 “Down on the Farm” series that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout America. (Prior articles, including the entire 2011 edition, can be accessed here.)

Sometimes the right day, time, and setting can make all the difference.

I was heading south on I-25 last Wednesday for a business trip and realized the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs Sky Sox had a getaway 12:30p.m. game against the first place Reno Aces.

 

Upon arrival, I realized I wasn’t the only one with said idea as Security Service Field’s large parking lot was nearly full 45 minutes before first pitch.  Soon after, I deduced there were reasons for this:

– The top pitching prospects for Colorado and Arizona — 23-year-old Drew Pomeranz and 21-year-old Trevor Bauer, with his unique pre-game routine — would square off.

– Two-time Rockies all-star Troy Tulowitzki was making a one-day rehab appearance. (“Tulo” would hit a mammoth home run and single before re-aggravating his groin, departing after the third inning. The Rockies shortstop completed rehab assignments with the Sky Sox in 2008 and 2010 (11 at bats), but never played full-time in Colorado Springs since he made the jump from Double-A Tulsa to Majors in 2006.)

–School was out, so many summer camps and families enjoyed 80 degree, sunny temps.

 

 

Otherwise, this 8,500 seat ballpark, with the highest elevation of any in the USA at 6,531 feet, has been about half full on average in 2012.

 

 

Security Service Field opened as Sky Sox Stadium in 1988 when the Hawai’i Islanders of the PCL relocated to Colorado Springs. The Sky Sox remained the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians until 1993 when the Rockies were born and claimed the franchise 70 miles south of Denver.

The stadium’s current name was implemented in 2004.  Though part of a naming rights agreement with Security Service Federal Credit Union, a local financial institution, the label also seems to resonate with nearby “security service” provided via the United States Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson Army Post. Military personnel receive discounts for any game, and on five specific occasions each season, are admitted for free.

 

 

Physically, the ballpark has a simple but attractive design.  Eight million dollars has been invested in renovations, which add appeal to fans.

Above the press box, behind home plate, are luxury suites; while down the right field line, a two-story banquet hall was recently created where a berm formerly sat.  This facility has its own bar and meeting space to host large parties, and below, the Coors Picnic Terrace can host smaller groups. In total, 18 sky boxes are available for rent.

 

 

Security Service Field, which houses the only minor league humidor, plays big, with 350 feet dimensions down the lines, 385 to the power alleys and well over 400 to dead center. Additionally, in 1994, the first ballpark hot tub was installed beyond right field.

The stadium sits in the midst of the city’s rapidly-growing eastern suburbs, offering views of a golf course and rows of houses in the distance. Some of Colorado’s grandest mountains, including famous Pikes Peak, stand to the west.

I was told the wind has significantly died down from when the yard opened nearly 25 years ago and land was barren beyond the outfield fences.  With Colorado Springs’ joint civil-military airport nearby, fans can also watch planes come and go from any seat.

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

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