— Matt Nelson
Let’s just get it out there. Alliant Energy Field in Clinton and home of the Clinton Lumberkings is a fantastic place to watch baseball. The reasons for that are obvious. It’s old and recent renovations keep it looking good. It is the most unique of any ballpark in the Midwest League.
Technically speaking some would argue that Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport is older than Alliant Energy Field. However, recent renovations haven’t left nearly as much of that park intact as the one up river in Clinton. Clinton is to be applauded for keeping the old yard around!
Built as a part of the Works Progress Administration in 1937, the art deco exterior stands out. Once you’re inside the park it has a classic grandstand. Sure there are beams which can obstruct a fan’s view, but you have that at any place this old, like Wrigley and Fenway. Fans don’t complain about that on summer days when most of the seating is shaded. The renovations also included upgraded seats so you can sit in normal box seats, or bleacher style seats.
The best seats in the park are, not surprisingly, right behind home plate in the first couple of rows. In Clinton that means something more though. Alliant Energy Field is old enough that through the years the distance from home plate to the backstop has been “grandfathered in.” You see, that distance is considerably shorter at Alliant Energy Field. Because the wall of the grandstand is concrete, it remains. All of this means that if you score a ticket for that area, you’re closer to the action than at almost any other ballpark. One thing to keep in mind, the net being just feet from your nose in the first row can be a little hard on the eyes.
Look this ballpark up on the internet and you will often see it referred to as “Riverview Stadium.” At one time that was true, but today there’s no view of the Mississippi River. That’s unfortunate, unless you live in town. Flood protection after terrible flooding in the ’60’s is what blocks the view of the river from the ballpark. So, you can see why residents probably think that the obstructed river view isn’t such a bad idea!
Down the left field line renovations provide for a nice beer garden type of area, as well as places to play for the kids. I assume a team has to custom order giant inflatable Lumberking heads and play places? It would seem there isn’t a widespread demand for that!
The food is fine fare for the ballpark, but nothing exceptional. What is exceptional are the people. At a game in Clinton there is a small town feel, with small town friendlieness and service. The people working at the ballpark are fantastic!
One other thing they’ve been able to do in recent years is use Alliant Energy Field for non-baseball events. In 2007 the ballpark hosted an event that included several Democrats running for President at the time. Clinton, Biden, and Edwards just to name three. A great way to get more out of a stadium than just the home schedule for the home team.
If you’re wondering where the Lumberkings name comes from, it really makes a lot of sense in Clinton. You can view a video story on that topic as well, but this is the condensed version: From 1850-1900 Clinton was a booming town due to the lumber industry. Logs were floated down the river from Minnesota and Wisconsin, cut up, and the wood sent to Chicago or the Great Plains. The industry in Clinton died because they cut down too many trees up north, and companies moved to the Pacific Northwest.
It’s not easy for the Lumberkings these days either. As one of the smallest cities in the country with full season affiliated Minor League Baseball (they fight with Burlington for that title) it’s never easy when you’re in a league with cities like Dayton, Cedar Rapids and Fort Wayne. However the club works hard to market itself to all of Clinton County, as well as the immediate areas across the river in Illinois.
Clinton has gone through a number of affiliation changes through the years. Since 2000 that includes Cincinnati, Montreal, Texas and starting in 2009, Seattle.
A visit to Alliant Energy Field in Clinton is a step back in time. Where else can you find a nice couple who bring their big ol’ radio to the ballpark to listen to the game while siting in the front row?
Today there are numerous ballparks out there that have been built in the last 20 years. Finding one that opened in ’37 and remains in good condition is well worth the trip to the river.
Please be sure to watch KCRG-TV9’s video stories on Alliant Energy Field as well as the Clinton Lumber History! More photos from Clinton are below and on the KCRG page!