Even if you’re not all that romantic about baseball, there’s something undeniable about going to a game — the crack of the bat, the smack of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the combination sunscreen-nachos-beer smell, that random guy yelling at the umpire from 15 rows up. As they say, it’s a vibe.
And it’s still undeniable at UCHealth Park, home of the Rocky Mountain Vibes of the Pioneer League. But the action on the field is only part of the experience
“One of our main goals is to create family, affordable fun,” says Kay Goodell, director of marketing for the Rocky Mountain Vibes. “Every day is different, and we try to tailor the experience for everyone — not just the baseball fan. Even if you don’t look at the field the entire game, we want to make it so you’re experiencing something the entire time.”
We took a trip to UCHealth Park to get the lowdown on what you need to know for your next Vibes game. That way, you’ll be ready to root, root, root for the home team and join in the celebration as the ball disappears behind the outfield fence — as the Vibes take the lead, of course.
A key to your experience at any sporting event is preparation. Nothing can careen the experience sideways like not having your tickets ready, being surprised by the parking situation, or having to go back to your car to put an item back. Check out the Know Before You Go section below to find out how to avoid all that.
Once you reach the stadium just east of Powers Boulevard, settle in and watch the Vibes go to work as the sunset is replaced by that particular glow of stadium lights.
You’re probably in for a high-scoring game. Contests at UCHealth Park are never short on scoring. The past nine home games for the Vibes have averaged — averaged — 20 runs per game between the two teams. The night we were there, the Vibes scored 14 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Rooting for the pitchers is like being a Rockies fan in recent years; it will bring you nothing but pain.
Maybe the hitting is just more advanced than the pitching in the Pioneer League, which is a developmental league. None of its players can have more than three years of professional baseball experience, and it’s 96-game regular season runs late May to early September.
The Pioneer League is an official MLB Partner League, so it has adopted some of the same rule changes that went into effect in the major league this season. That running clock you see in the outfield is a pitch clock. Each pitch must be released (and each batter ready for play) before the clock expires. And you’ll notice two lines extending from second base to the outfield, creating what looks like a pie slice. As an extension of Major League Baseball’s shift rules, no player is allowed to stand inside the pie slice.
The most exciting difference from the big league is the Pioneer League’s home run derby. If the game is tied after nine innings, one designated player from each team takes pitches from one of that team’s coaches. Two minutes, five pitches, most home runs wins. “It’s really become one of the most exciting and engaging parts of the game,” Goodell says. “You have to sometimes wait and see if it’s a homerun or not, and it’s really fun to hear the fans’ reactions.”
If you’re a parent, Toasty’s Fun Zone is for you — well, your kids. Goodell calls this the “lawless land on the hill,” where kids reign supreme. There’s a slide, bouncy house, picnic tables and a “speed of pitch” machine so you can see how strong that arm is. The grassy hill down the left field line makes for great rolling, and a nice place to catch a foul ball souvenir. You might find Toasty, the Vibes’ mascot, here, but he roams all over the stadium during games too. Keep your eyes peeled. You can’t miss Toasty. He’s the big campfire s’more with flaming hair who is always sharing good vibes.
You can get your own s’more-making gear from the concession stands and head to the Campfire Marshmallows S’mores Zone to cook ‘em up. You might also enjoy the popular beer bat, a plastic baseball bat-shaped receptacle that fits two beers and can be kept as a souvenir. Pro tip: Alcohol sales end at the bottom of the eighth inning, and the different theme nights (listed below) have special drink options. It’s also good to know that each of the four food stands has a different flavor: ballpark, fair, local and fiesta.
To fully support the team, you need some Vibes gear. The Game Over Hat Store and the General S’more can set you up. Head to the former as you arrive or early in the game, as it usually closes in the middle innings. Pro tip: Grab some merch, and take it down the right field line to the first base tunnel. Players are usually more than willing to sign autographs after the game. Those good vibes just seem to keep rolling, especially when the team is winning.
Extra Fun: Rocky Mountain Vibes Promotional Schedule
Promo days, giveaways, fireworks and theme nights make the game even more fun. So do $2 tickets. Here’s how to access the next level of fun at a Rocky Mountain Vibes game.
- Vibe Tribe Tuesdays: $1 hotdogs.
- Winning Wednesdays: $2 tickets.
- Thank You Thursdays: Military members get free tickets (up to five per ID). Visit the box office to redeem.
- Firework Fridays: Post-game fireworks.
- Saturday Theme Nights: Here’s what’s upcoming the rest of this season: Christmas in July (July 22), Paint the Park Pink (Aug. 5), Army vs. Air Force (Aug. 12), Galaxy Night (Aug. 19), Lloronas (Aug. 26), and Margaritaville (Sept. 9).
- Throwback Sundays: Kids day and postgame baserunning. For these day games, the team almost always wears throwback Colorado Springs Sky Sox uniforms in honor of the city’s previous pro baseball team, and its popular mascot Sox the Fox returns to visit.
There are five more homestands in the 2023 season: July 20-27 (no game July 24), Aug. 1-6, Aug. 11-13, Aug. 18-27, and Sept. 7-9.
Know Before You Go
VibesBaseball.com is the best place to purchase tickets, Goodell says. That way you avoid the potential pitfalls of resellers, and Vibes staff can help with any issues. Alternatively, you can visit the stadium box office:
- Gamedays: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. through the end of the game. Sunday, 8 a.m. through the end of the game.
- Non-Gamedays: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Friday-Sunday.
- Phone Number: 719-597-1449
- Tickets range $7-$18
- There are two main seating areas: seats and benches, called “box” and “upper.” The seats are much more comfortable and closer to the field, but they’re a little more expensive and the view is slightly more obstructed by the safety netting.
There’s plenty of it, but it will be $10. The lot opens two hours before first pitch (tailgating, anyone?) and the stadium gates open one hour before gametime. Get inside with time to spare to explore the stadium and get your souvenirs and food and drinks. Plus, you can see things like the ceremonial first pitch and chuckle as the umpires take the field to the Star Wars Imperial March.
What You Can’t Bring Inside
- No outside food or beverages are allowed, nor are weapons or firearms.
- No glass bottles, cans, coolers or lawn chairs.
- UCHealth Park is cashless, though you can exchange cash for Toasty Tokens (like Monopoly money) at the box office and General S’more.
- Clear bags are encouraged though not required. Stadium staff will search them on your way inside.
Located just inside the stadium on the right, this is the place to go if you want to know where your seats are located, enter to win season tickets, or are feeling bold enough to sign up for the on-field games that take place between innings. It’s also the lost and found.
It’s summer in Colorado, so there’s often a good chance of rain. Anything after five innings is considered a complete game, and umpires can call the game at their discretion. Follow along on the Vibes social media to stay up to date. Best to check the weather and bring a rain jacket regardless.