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  • James Hilchen

NelsonCorp Field – Clinton LumberKings

Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

NelsonCorp Field

537 Ballpark Drive

Clinton, IA 52732

Year Opened: 1937

Capacity: 5,000


An Old-Fashioned Baseball Experience

Sitting a mere few hundred feet away from the Mississippi River, FieldCorp Field opened in 1937 as Riverview Stadium and was home to the Clinton Owls, a farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The stadium has been renovated to include new lighting, bigger dugouts, and better locker rooms and batting cages. The home of the Clinton Lumber Kings is the only charter member of the Midwest League from its maiden season of 1956.

A quick scan of the list of players who have played in Clinton includes greats such as Denny McClain, Mike Scioscia, Dave Stewart, Orel Hershiser, Jason Bay, and Ian Kinsler. The LumberKings are the last remaining member of the original Midwest League, which began in 1956. For fans of stadiums with an old-time feel, NelsonCorp Field is right up your alley. Additionally, Clinton is a mere 90-minute drive from Dyersville, Iowa, home of the iconic Field of the Dreams movie site.

Food & Beverage 3

Much like the ballpark, the concessions offer the basics, with one exception. The featured food item at this ballpark is simply called…the garbage pail. For $8.50, you get a load of mini tacos, chicken strips, fries, onion rings, poppers, cheese balls, corn nuggets, and corn dogs. It’s not the healthiest thing around, but who cares, everyone that was eating them seemed quite happy with their choice.

The prices are quite good and for $3-$5 you can have burgers, brats, hot dogs, nachos, grilled cheese, onion rings, cheese balls, ice cream, popcorn, and many other traditional ballpark items. Can and bottles of soda, including RC Cola, Diet Rite, Sun Drop, 7 Up, A&W Root Beer, lemonade, and Snapple along with water are the beverage choices. For the adults, there is a decent choice of beer and malt-type beverages available throughout the concourse and out by left field.

Atmosphere 5

Entering the gates gets you to the concourse with concessions, restrooms, and the LumberKings team shop. Walking up the entrance ramps to the seating bowl is like going back in time. The stadium was built in 1937 and not much has been done with its appearance since, which isn’t a bad thing. The seating bowl is very uncomplicated with three rows of stadium box seats that sit in front of the walkway, guaranteeing fans will rarely have their view of the game blocked by someone walking by. Behind the walkway, bleachers encompass the rest of the seating bowl.

The bleachers behind home plate have backs to them and are a bit more comfortable than those without. Netting surrounds most of the infield from mid-dugout on the third base side to mid-dugout on the first base side. An overhang covers the entire seating bowl so the likelihood of being in the shade most, if not all of the game is quite good. Over the right field wall is the Leinenkugel’s Lumber Lounge, which hosts groups of 25-200 people.

The Coors Light Picnic Pavilion hosts groups of similar size and sits down the left field line along with the Bullpen Patio, which hosts smaller groups and gives the unique experience of sitting directly over the wall from the home bullpen. A kid’s area is also in the left field corner where kids can play on various equipment for $5, good for the entire game. Once the game starts, it’s all about baseball with your typical between-innings promotions.

A primitive scoreboard sits over the left-center field wall. You won’t get replays on ancillary stats on the scoreboard, simply the line score and ball and strike count, which only adds to the old-time charm of this stadium.

Neighborhood 3

The best part about the location of the ballpark is that you are a couple minutes’ walk from the Mississippi River. A quick walk up 6th Avenue will get you to the Candlelight Inn Restaurant. The Candlelight is a great family restaurant, having a large menu with something for everyone. Chicken George with Jan sauce is the specialty of the house and quite popular.

If Mexican food is your thing, just down South 2nd Avenue is the El Toro Restaurant. The locals say El Toro doesn’t serve a bad meal and is well worth a visit. The majority of the hotels are in the same area, about 10 minutes away from the ballpark. It’s a quick and easy drive and there is a wide choice of lodging including a nice Hampton Inn.

Fans 3

For those involved in the party areas, many seem more interested in socializing than paying attention to the game. Fans sitting in the seating bowl largely have their focus on the goings on on the field and cheer when the situation dictates. Numerous fans can be seen keeping score of the game, a tradition that seems to be disappearing from baseball stadiums across the country. Fans in Clinton are pleasant to talk with and seem proud of their ballpark.

Access 4

The majority of the ballpark is very easy to get around. The concessions are under the seating bowl with another food area down the left field line. The seating bowl is easily maneuverable and you can get to the restrooms and concessions without much difficulty. The left field corner encompasses a kid’s area, concessions, and a party area and can become quite congested on busy nights. The parking areas are close and easy to get in and out of. The concession lines move relatively quickly and are sufficiently staffed.

Return on Investment 5

For the price you pay, this might be one of the best experiences in all of minor-league baseball. Parking is free and there are two lots (on the first base and third base sides of the stadium) that make the walk to the stadium minimal. Tickets are $8 for box seats and $7 for general admission. Seniors, students, and the military will pay $6 for GA, and children 5 and under are free. Combine this with very reasonable concession prices and it equals a great time for a minimal amount of money.

Extras 4

An extra point simply for having a fun stadium that is 80 years old. The left field wall has a unique semi-circle “inlet” that would allow for some very strange bounces should the ball hit it. Any sports fan will appreciate the cup holders in the restrooms. This should be a requirement everywhere. The LumberKings staff makes the game experience very family-friendly. Families can attend a game without worrying that their kids will hear a lot of things they probably shouldn’t.

Final Thoughts

FieldCorp Field doesn’t offer the most modern feel in the Midwest League, it offers quite the opposite. It takes fans back in time to when baseball was about taking in the experience of what was happening on the field, rooting for your players and against the opposing team. For a true baseball fan, this is a fabulous venue. Come to the ballpark, turn off the cell phone, and simply enjoy baseball at its purest. If enjoying a ballgame is your goal, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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