Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dow Diamond, Midland MI

Basic Information

Team: Great Lakes Loons (Midwest League)
Game: Loons vs Lake County Captains-4/9/2011
Team Website: http://www.loons.com/
Ticket Information: (989) 837-BALL
Tourism Information: (888) 424-3526 or http://www.midlandcvb.org/
Online Broadcasts: WLUN http://www.espn1009.com/
Local Newspaper: Midland Daily News http://www.ourmidland.com/

Team History: Minor league baseball came to the city of Midland in 2007 when the Michigan Baseball Foundation purchased the Battle Creek-based Southwest Michigan Devil Rays, and moved them two hours north to the brand new Dow Diamond. In its previous four seasons, the Loons have become quite the hit in the area, regularly drawing sellout crowds to the Dow Diamond, as well as on the field, making the Midwest League playoffs the past two seasons.
Team Affiliation: The Loons are the Midwest League affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
How About That Name (And Some History): The Dow Diamond was opened on April 3, 2007, when the Loons hosted their inaugural home game against the Lansing Lugnuts. The ballparl, located near downtown Midland, was built on land donated by the Dow Chemical Company, who also purchased the naming rights to the stadium, which has been called the Dow Diamond ever since.
On The Town: Located approximately two hours north of metropolitan Detroit, Midland makes up part of what is known as the "Tri-City" region, along with Saginaw and Bay City. Midland, with a population of just over 41,000, is the world headquarters of Dow Chemical Corporation. Dow was founded in Midland in 1897 by Herbert Henry Dow, a Canadian chemist who developed a process which extruded the chemical bromine from the brine, which was trapped underground in the area. In over a hundered years, Dow has become the world's third largest chemical company.Midland was recently named the fourth best small town in which to raise a family by Forbes magazine.
Getting There: From I-75 North: Exit on US 10 west. Follow US 10/MI Business 20 into downtown Midland (approximately 15 miles). Once into Midland, turn left onto State St. The main entrance to the stadium is at the intersection of State and Ellsworth streets.

Nearby Airport: MBS International Airport is approximately 20 minutes southeast of Dow Diamond.

What To Do Before The Game: Unforunately, this trip was extremely short notice, and I didn't get a chance to check out what there is to do in Midland. I recommend contacting the Midland Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information.

Where To Eat Before The Game: Again, this was an "in and out" trip, so there wasn't much time to grab a meal outside the park. The Diamond is located in a semi-residential area, so there isn't much in the immediate vicinity of the park. Again, I would check with the Convention and Visitors Bureau for suggestions.
Where To Stay: On a previous visit to Midland, I stayed at the excellent Sleep Inn in Midland. Approximately ten minutes from Dow Diamond, the rooms are all clean, comfortable, and the service was excellent. For reservation information, call (989) 837-1010 or (888) 837-1010.

Ticket Prices: Loons tickets are priced as follows: $9.00 (reserved box seats) and $6.00 (lawn seating).

Parking: There are several private lots across the street from the Dow Diamond. The lot I selected was a three minute walk to the main entrance, and for just $3.00, a bargain. The lot I parked in was apparently staffed by a local organization, as it was marked "parking for charity", which made the $3.00 even more palatable.

The Good Seats: As far as I could tell, all of the seats at the Dow Diamond gave an excellent view of the field. The main grandstand stretches from first base to third base in the traditoinal "wishbone" shape. The lawn seating is located down the first base line and in right and left center field. Along the first base side, there are redwood "porch" seats that are apparently available on a first come, first served basis. In addition, there are fire pits above the lawn seats in left asnd right center, which were a perfect addition on a slightly chilly early April evening. There is also a large picnic area down the left field line.

Getting In: The main entrance is on the first base side of Dow Diamond. To the left of the main entrance is the box office and the Loons Loft merchandise store. After you enter, a staircase takes you up to the concourse level.

Stadium Food: While the Dow Diamond might not have the largest line of concessions, what the serve is very good. There are two main concession stands, one on each baseline. The food served at these stands is the basic ballpark fare, but as I said, what they do, they do well. In addition, there are smaller carts, which feature salads and fruit, Chinese and Mexican specialties, barbecue, and beer. For my pregame meal, I purchased two hot dogs, steak fries, and a large Coke, which cost $15.75. The hot dogs were quite tasty, fresh, hot, and made to order. The steak fries weren't quite as good, as they were kind of luke warm, which means they might have been around for a while.

Here is a sampling of the concession prices at the Dow Diamond:
Hot Dog: $3.75   Hamburger: $6.00   Nachos: $4.50   Draft Beer: $4.75   Pretzel: $3.75   Large Soda: $4.75   Ice Cream: $3.75 and $4.75   Steak Fries: $3.75   Pizza Slice: $4.00

Soft Drinks: Coke products are served at the Dow Diamond.

Souvenirs: The Loons Loft is probably one of the largest souvenir stores in the minors. The two-floor store sells a large line of Loons related merchandise. On the lower floor, the team sells some collectables and childrens merchandse. The upper floor hosts the adult merchandise line.

Restrooms: The restrooms at the Dow Diamond are exceptionally clean and of a suitable size for a park of its size.
Mascot: Lou E. Loon is one of the best I've seen in some time. He, and his "handler" circulate throughout the stands for the entire game, motivating and entertaining the fans. He also leads the Loons fans in the "Funky Feather" dance every time the home team plates a run.
Dance Team: None
Program: The Loons' excellent full color program costs $2.00. In addition, if you wish to just purchase a set of game notes for the game you attend, those are just a dollar.
Scoreboard/Arena Voice: The Loons boast an excellent multimedia system, which is led by the large video/scoreboard in right center field. The scoreboard features a large lower section which provides the pertinient game information, and three high definition video screens, which are used for advertising, promotions, game contests, and replays. Even when the sun is still shining down on the field, the video screens show a crisp, clear picture. The arena music is of a good quality, and the PA voice is excellent as well.
Stadium Staff: Incredible! Not only were they incredibly helpful, they were just out-and-out friendly and just plain hospitable. For example, before the game, I stopped by the Guest Relations office and asked if I could possibly get a Loons media guide. They didn't know about them, but one of the people in the office went up and checked on it. They weren't ready yet, but the gentleman I spoke to got me a set of each team's game notes. Everyone I encountered at Dow Diamond had a smile and a unfailingly pleasant attitude, which was an incredible contrast to the people I dealt with at the Indians game at Progressive Field a few days before. A special thanks to Loons GM Paul Barbeau, Assistant GM Lance LeFevre, and Corporate Partnership Director Emily Schaefer for their incredible hospitality.
Atmosphere: The Loons staff are very fan-conscious, and it pays off with strong attendance figures in their previous four seasons. Although the park was about half full the evening I was in attendance, it was still a lively and supportive crowd. Even though I was supporting the Captains, every single person there was friendly and wecoming, even to a visitor. 
Stadium Features: The Dow Diamond is cutting edge in technology in several areas. The large main scoreboard is solar powered, the only one of it's type in the minor leagues. You can see the solar panels which power the scoreboard in the parking lot just beyond right center field. In addition, the main concourse has garage-type doors which seal the concourse from the elements in the off season, and allow the park to be utilized for meetings, parties, and trade shows.   
Overall Rating: I know that I've used "excellent" and "outstanding" often in this description of Dow Diamond. However, I think that if you attend a Loons game at the Diamond, you will feel the same way! It will definitely not be five years before I make a return trip to the Dow Diamond!