Lloyd Hopkins Field – Alton River Dragons
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57
Lloyd Hopkins Fied 4500 College Ave. Alton, IL 62002
Year Opened: Unknown
River Dragons Looking to Make their Mark in Alton
It has been said that no two ballparks are alike, but many have borrowed elements that have blurred the aesthetics. If you’re looking for a truly different type of venue for baseball, then set your destinations to Alton, Illinois, and Lloyd Hopkins Field. There isn’t quite another place to watch a baseball game in the Prospect League like here.
It is the home to the Alton River Dragons, who began operations in 2021 just along the Mississippi River, about 20 miles north of St. Louis. The ball club hopes to attract visitors to the river town with quite a bit of charm and appeal. It is a reminder of a throwback era where towns of all sizes had a baseball team, and the Dragons hope to be here for quite some time.
Lloyd Hopkins was a pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization who played for them from 1940 to 1942. He went 23-6 in 1941 before heading off to Europe for World War II. He was at the beaches of Normandy and would move up the ranks of the second lieutenant. He would never play professional baseball after the war but would have a stadium named after him due to his sacrifice.
The ballpark was dressed upon the arrival of the Dragons, including an all-you-can-eat party deck, concession tables, souvenir stands, 3,000 additional seating, and a new video scoreboard in the right field. Additional team and sponsorship signage are wrapped around the bleachers and fencing, sprucing up the tiny ballpark.
Food & Beverage 2
A couple of concession stands offer the basics of hot dogs, burgers, nachos, brats, candy, and other items.
However, a few items were unavailable, blackout on the menu board, during our visit to the stadium.
The Dragons make up for that with highly affordable prices on alcoholic drinks that include their very own brand of beer called a Radle produced by a nearby Old Bakery Beer Company. City Wide American Pale Ale by 4 Hands in St. Louis and White Claw are other options that are available for $5 each. The ballpark has some great items to snack on; it’s recommended to visit one of the many great eateries in Alton before the game.
There’s something different about this stadium, and it reminds me of the town ball stadiums of Minnesota. It has a capacity for 3,000 fans, but it seems much smaller than that. It was never meant to be the home for summer collegiate baseball but will do its best to serve in that capacity for the foreseeable future.
There are two party decks on top of each dugout that add a little obvious to the ballpark. This area can be rented for a large group and probably have one of the best spots in the entire ballpark. Protective netting surrounds the suite for fans to enjoy the game without injury.
The main grandstand features comfortable plastic bucket seats and is near home plate. It might be one of the closest spots in the league itself. There are more protective netting and two bars that cross each other to hold it up. The rest of the seating is bleacher-style down both foul lines.
The stadium has a concession table that offers both t-shirts and caps featuring the stylistic team logo. There is not an adequate amount to choose from compared to other clubs in the league, but perhaps that will improve as the season goes on since a few people in the crowd were wearing items that were out of stock.
The stadium has copious amounts of sponsorship banners wrapped around the bleachers to cover up their open spaces. They had a very different touch to the stadium. The video scoreboard in the right field is capable of a lot more than your typical electronic scoreboard. The club also has a Dragon mascot that makes its way throughout the stadium and helps introduce players before the first pitch.
Alton has a population of 27,000 along the Mississippi River. The city is known for its limestone bluffs but is also home to multiple restaurants and bars. Visitors may also enjoy riding along the great river road and scenic views of both Illinois and Missouri.
The National Great Rivers Museum is open daily, the reproduction of the Piasa Bird painting is northwest of the city, and the Argosy Casino Alton is available for anyone looking for a little luck.
The downtown area is worth visiting for its views of the river, turn-of-the-century buildings, and walkable distance to various shops and restaurants. The State Street Market, Big Boys BBQ, The Old Bakery Beer Company, and The Rivers Vedge are a few options for visitors. However, the best spot is just outside of downtown.
Fast Eddies Bon Air is nationally known for its appearances inside a 1921 building, originally called the Bon Air. Since 1981, Fast Eddies has been offering grilled food, peel-and-eat shrimp, live music, and an all-around good time. The Big Elwood is a steak kabob, the Salty Pork Kabob, homemade Brat, and red dog are a few tasty options to order at the counter.
Rumor at the game was that it was the largest of the young season and hopefully can be the start of something good for the Alton franchise. Visitors packed both main grandstands, and a few took in the option of enjoying the game from the suite decks above each dugout. They appeared to enjoy what they were watching on the field of play.
The stadium has most of its amenities near one another around the entrance. The covered grandstand may take some squeezing into when the game is packed, but all other points of the ballpark are simple to move around.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to both the left field and right field bleachers are $5 to $8, and reserved seats are $8 to $10 apiece. The party decks are $30 a person and include all-you-can-eat burgers, brats, hot dogs, chips, soda, and beer. However, make sure you are there with a few friends to sit in this area. The beer is affordable at the concession stand at $5, but merchandise options are somewhat limited. The club has a sharp-looking logo and could use a few more options to brand itself to its fanbase.
The club has an amazing dragon logo that should sell well, not only in Alton but across the nation. It is also on its beer that is made in town by a local brewery. The city is known for its limestone bluffs but is also home to multiple restaurants and bars. The second point is for the Lloyd Hopkins memorial garden bed at the entrance of the stadium.
Lloyd Hopkins Field was never meant to be a summer collegiate facility, but the organization will make sure they do everything they can to make that happen.
The ballpark has its pros and cons in terms of design and amenities, but it also harkens back to what minor league stadiums were like when I was younger. However, there is fun expecting anyone at an Alton River Dragons game.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com