Nelson Farm Park
Review by Mike
The Owlz of Orem, Utah, spent 20 years playing just south of Salt Lake City at Brent Brown Ballpark as members of the Pioneer League. When minor league baseball was reshuffled in 2021 and the Pioneer League became an independent MLB Partner League, the Owlz took the opportunity to move east to Windsor, Colorado as the Northern Colorado Owlz.
The plan was to take 2021 off while a new stadium complex was built 30 miles north of Denver, then debut in 2022 at TicketSmarter Stadium, but the pandemic and the domino effect of materials availability and shipping delays put the kybosh on these dreams. With the ballpark nowhere near completion, a series of temporary facilities would have to do.
The last of these is Nelson Farm Park, the showcase field of the Nelson Farm Park Ballfields. This is not a stadium. It is, quite literally, a ballpark. That is, it’s a park with a ballfield. The nearest thing to a stadium structure are the three rows of concrete tiers behind the heavy chain link backstop. There aren’t even erector set grandstands down the lines.
With the understanding that Nelson Farm is a field of necessity, I will focus on what It has rather than what it has not. The field itself is in excellent condition, beautifully groomed, as is the surrounding park. There is the concrete seating, but more appealing are the grassy knolls that surround the field, raised up a few feet to give a better view. Plus, there are a few shade trees under which to set the folding chair you hopefully brought with you.
There is a nice service building with clean bathrooms and a snack bar where you can get hot dogs, nachos, chips and drinks. Behind home plate is a small press box and the PA system had a nice, clean sound for announcing batters and playing the usual, though not overdone sound effects and music. The game was even on the radio, with the broadcast team set up on a card table under umbrellas behind home plate.
The dugouts were small, so the bullpens and extra players sat on the grass under party tents down each line. There was a merchandise table with some snazzy gear and, best of all, a cornfield beyond the left field fence to complete the sense of baseball at its simplest, purest level. It’s not easy to rate Nelson Farm Park because it’s hard to penalize a really nice place for being exactly what it is, which is a very nice solution to a difficult problem for the NoCo Owlz. My visit was fun and different, so good on you, Nelson Farm Park.
This is the current state of construction of TicketSmarter Stadium on August 14, 2022, still quite a ways from being complete. Hopefully, it will be ready for 2023.
Where They Played Before
Brent Brown Ballpark
The former home of the Owlz was Brent Brown Ballpark, now UCCU Ballpark, in Orem, Utah, on the campus of Utah Valley University. I was not able to get inside when I drove by in 2019, but I was able to get this shot over the outfield wall.