With population numbers leaping exponentially each year in Saratoga Springs and future growth predictions only adding more residential areas, to say there was a need for a new park like Patriot Park in the city is a pretty vast understatement.
Just three years ago, the western Utah County boom town had a mere four recreation programs to cater to residents, making the need for something more exceptionally obvious. That’s where the idea for the 30-acre park honoring not only America’s favorite pastime but also its heroes began.
“The mayor and city council wanted to design Patriot Park to honor our veterans and those who are in military service, and baseball is kind of that all-American sport,” said Saratoga Springs Public Relations and Economic Development Director David Johnson on the concept for the newly minted city park. “We were in need of our own baseball facility and thought this was a great opportunity to not only to provide an extra amenity to our residents but also take the opportunity to honor those men and women in military who have served, especially with our proximity to Camp Williams.”
Nearly four years ago, the concept was first cultivated, with the fruits of that labor leading to the April opening of not only a fantastic city park, but also sports complex with up to 100 acres nearby potentially available to accommodate future expansion.
So what makes Patriot Park so great? Here are 15 fun things worth noting about the unique new park complex.
-- By Kari Kenner, Daily Herald
One of the most important things to note about Patriot Park is its sheer size. The park consists of a 30-acre complex featuring six baseball fields and eight pickleball courts, not to mention a lofty playground with areas for youth of all ages and parking that wraps around three sides of the park.
A series of picnic tables also add to the allure of the complex, making it a great spot to hang out after a morning of playing ball, or even just playing in general, with a handful of netted areas for batting practice lining the walkways and an ample helping of benches.
The park also features large, centrally-located restroom facilities with ample space for future expansion both of the park itself and of other city amenities.
According to Johnson, there’s a total 100 acre option on more fields to purchase with such growth already making its way into the city’s Master Plans.
“There’s potential for a new city hall or library, and if voters vote for it, a recreation center could go in that area,” he said. “We already have the Radio Control Park there and the East Inlet Park where we host soccer games. The old hot springs are there and as the city looks at future funding over the next several years, they’re likely to slowly phase and build that area to be central.”
A dominant theme
Not only does Patriot Park allow for a variety of baseball and softball programs, its six ballparks, playground and even common areas all offer tribute to the same patriotic theme.
Each ballpark is named after a branch of the military, including a nod to first responders while the complex itself is in the shape of an oversized baseball bat, with bat-shaped light posts, baseball-themed playground equipment (think catcher’s mask, mitt, bat and balls) and even a veterans monument at the entry to honor those who have served in the military.
Accolades are already rolling in
If local response to the park isn’t indication enough of the quality and effort put into its creation, a second witness would be the response of those who helped to create it.
“The contractors we were talking to to help design the plaques said this is one of the best baseball complexes they’ve ever seen,” Johnson said. “They’ve really been impressed with just the quality of the park.”
And they aren’t the only ones. Playworld, the national company that created the playground equipment for the uniquely-themed park, has even taken notice of the things that set it apart, and, according to the city Facebook page, consider it “one of the premier facilities made with their play structures.”
The company is actually coming out to photograph the area and use it in their marketing.
The community response has also been positive and strong, according to Johnson.
“We get nothing but great feedback from the community,” he said, noting that before the park even opened officially they had people coming in to enjoy it. “It’s been nothing but positive response. People are really finding it a fun park. It’s a unique park and one that kids enjoy and can play on. It’s a lot of fun.”
The perfect place to pitch
A majority of the complex goes to the six well-constructed baseball fields that open up the option for community recreation and also community collaboration, with scoreboards sponsored by Pepsi.
“One of the things we really wanted to do was make this park something that would create a partnership so that we could benefit the residents and we really appreciate Pepsi. … We want to recognize and thank them,” Johnson said.
The giant electronic scoreboards are a highlight of each field, and denote on the back the branch of military the specific area is named after.
“They’re the ‘Navy Field’ or ‘Army Field,’” Johnson said. “We didn’t want ‘Field One,’ ‘Field Two.’ We wanted to honor the military. There are military flags at each respective field and the First Responders Field is actually facing toward where the new police and court building will be.”
The number of fields, combined with careful planning, spacing and parking options, make it so a variety of games can all take place at once without overcrowding, and covered bleachers will hopefully add a layer of comfort for those who come to watch the games unfold.
Though baseball is clearly the dominant theme at Patriot Park with a strong nod toward those who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms, it’s fun to note that it’s not the only type of ball you can hit at the complex. A series of eight pickleball courts have also found purchase in the park, due to growing popularity in the community.
“It has become really popular among all ages,” Johnson said of the game, noting that the addition of the courts has brought a wave of positive feedback. “We’re getting residents who are just excited for it to be open.”
Pickleball courts are not yet in high supply in Utah County, so Saratoga Springs’ addition of them to Patriot Park is something that can draw visitors from across Utah County to the unique amenity.
A fun spot for kids
Though the ball fields are definitely a large draw for Patriot Park, the unique playground area is probably one of the best features that caters to a need for community members of all ages.
“You can tell when you come out to Patriot Park, the whole idea of creating a playground is because when people come out to baseball games and their kids are playing, there is nothing for the other kids to do,” Johnson said. “We wanted to create a park kids could play at while their siblings were out playing baseball. We wanted to create something fun and whimsical and went with the baseball theme, including an oversized baseball mitt and catcher’s mask.”
A sea of completely round, giant baseballs embedded into a soft turf also add to the allure of the park, with a variety of slides, climbing equipment and even astroturf to give the feel of being in a ballpark.
Though the central location of the playground makes it great for families to access during ball games, it can be a little bit of a hike to the center of the complex for those just seeking the park, especially if they have disabilities. The trek is well worth the end reward, though!
Something for everyone
Though Patriot Park isn’t hyped as an all-abilities playground, there’s still a lot there for everyone to enjoy, from the smaller playground equipment and slides geared toward younger children to the over-sized baseball-themed features that provide a perfect play area for climbing, sliding and running.
The playground is not fully fenced, but its central location between the fields adds a level of safety for anxious parents, while ample benches offer a place for weary adults to rest while they watch their children play.
A pavilion of picnic tables is also in clear view of the playground making it a great place for a family lunch or post-game celebration, all while enjoying the theme of America’s pastime.
An obstacle course
Though there’s no set start and finish, one of the most alluring features of Patriot Park’s unique baseball-themed playground is the obstacle course area, offering a rock climbing wall, net climbing and narrow walkways including a suspended giant rope and trampoline-like path all leading to a central climbing area, essentially providing plenty of places to get up off the ground and move with fun platforms to stop and take a rest on.
Field of dreams
Though they’ve been mentioned before, one of the most popular features of the new playground is the unique field of giant baseballs naturally dividing the area for smaller children from the larger playground as a whole.
A perfect fit for the baseball theme, the textured and turfed area provides chances to climb and run through a series of balls, while enjoying a soft and hilly turf that’s great for playing.
Catching a fast one
Continuing to focus on the most obviously themed equipment, the catcher’s mitt slide is a quick favorite for many visitors to the park. Not only is it just about the perfect size to catch the giant baseballs at the playground, but it also offers a unique climb into a fun-themed tunnel slide unlike anything at any other local playground.
Taking the themed fun to the toddler area is a giant baseball bat and ball embedded into the ground of the smaller park, offering a chance to climb, run and play between spins on the small, flat merry-go-round or after bouncing out energy on a pair of bouncing rocker toys.
Another unique feature of Patriot Park’s playground is the fun variety of play structures all loosely connected to each other through ropes, bridges and climbing nets, with the catcher’s mask area providing a fun central point with a curved slide and even a unique elevator style feature that carries kids slowly from its upper loft to the ground before automatically returning to the top again. Other structures offer different sizes and varieties of slides, not to mention unique climbing opportunities, from blocks and ropes to spirals and decorative clubhouse-style wood planks.
A new spin
Merry-go-rounds have long been one of the most popular, and most dangerous toys on the playground, offering a fun thrill with the ever present chance to go flying off. Patriot Park in Saratoga offers three-styles of the thrill-seeking fun, including a flat, low version in the area for small children, a taller, more classic take toward the side of the main play area by the swings, and a spinning roped ring at the back of the playground where users can sit, stand or hang off at their leisure while the momentum of the initial push carries them around.
Places to perch
From landing pads in the middle of the rope climbing areas to the top of the play structures, another fun feature of the playground is that there are plenty of places to perch and rest, or even gear up for more fun. Smaller fabric pads provide great spots to stop while climbing, as well as a great view of the entire playground.
One of the most important things to note about Patriot Park’s playground is the success that stems from the willingness to try something new. From a small hamster wheel-style spinning toy to uniquely shaped climbing points, the outdoor “elevator” and ample awnings to provide tidbits of shade, no expense or thought was spared in designing a playground that would be fun and different, or as Johnson put it, “whimsical.” Rather than just your standard set of slides and swings, there’s a chance to use a little bit of imagination, and a lot of places to climb, explore and literally have a ball.