Dave Nielsen grew up in Modesto, California where he attended professional baseball games at Del Webb Field, home of the Modesto Reds. He attended Wheaton College in Illinois and the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. He was living in Puerto Rico in 1971 when native son Roberto Clemente figured prominently in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles, a cause for national celebration. He has resided and worked in San Diego since 1972. He was part of Larry Lucchino’s planning team during the development of Petco Park.