In December 2003 Dubuque residents voted down a ballot issue that would’ve built a stadium for the Battle Creek franchise of the Midwest League. Instead of moving to Dubuque, that franchise moved farther north in Michigan to the city of Midland prior to the 2007 season.
In Midland the city and Dow Chemical worked together to build Dow Diamond and a non-profit organization was established, the Michigan Baseball Foundation. Today the Great Lakes Loons and Dow Diamond are owned by the non-profit and are providing the area something they hadn’t had before, affiliated minor league baseball.
The Great Lakes Loons are a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate and their brief time in Midland has been headlined by having current Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw (click here for his minor league stats) as a member of the Loons. Signs around the ballpark proclaim the area as “Dodgertown – Michigan.” Unfortunately their teams haven’t been very good in the win-loss ratio.
Dow Diamond was built on land just a few blocks south of downtown Midland. The land was owned by Dow Chemical, but was given to the non-profit on which to the build the new ballpark. Today the view from the ballpark is of the massive chemical company. The old Dow headquarters were on the ballpark site, and the building was torn down to make way for the diamond. What’s very cool is that they crushed some of the brick from that building and have used it as rock for the warning track in the Dow Diamond outfield!
When fans enter the ballpark (assuming they enter behind home plate and not the outfield entrance) they enter an impressive three-story tower and then go up a set of stairs to the main concourse. The theme of the ballpark is that of “Summer in Michigan.” It has an outdoors-type feel to it including two fireplaces and two fire pits! Those are powered by gas and are turned on for all games. There’s no doubt they are greatly appreciated by Loons fans in the early months of the season!
Another great feature of this stadium are the 168 solar panels just beyond the right field foul pole and outside of the stadium. The panels produce enough electricity to power the massive scoreboard, although it should be noted that the solar energy goes to other parts of the park. AT&T Park in San Francisco was the first big league ballpark with solar panels, and Dow Diamond is believed to be the first minor league park with that energy source.
The Loon Loft is a sizable retail store that sells everything loon. What’s interesting about the shop is the design of it. It’s on two completely different levels of the ballpark! The Loons mascot is Lou E. Loon. The “E” stands for “entertainment.” I’m not making that up. Also located at the ballpark is 100.9 FM ESPN Radio which is owned by the organization and is the flagship for Loons broadcasts.
Dow Diamond is a great park. It has all sorts of seating options, great signature features, and it’s very clear that no detail was looked over in the construction of this park. It’s near the top of the list of not only Midwest League ballparks, but minor league ballparks throughout the country.
Be sure to check out my video reports from Midland by clicking here!