CLINTON — Fans and staff alike gathered at the 2018 Hot Stove Banquet at Eagle Point Lodge to talk about the upcoming Clinton LumberKings season, and one of the big topics of discussion was the upcoming changes to Ashford University Stadium.
The dinner is a fun night for all involved, and the staff and board members wanted to make sure the fans knew that they are what make baseball what it is in town.
“We can’t do it night in and night out without all of you in the room,” President of the Board Paul Davis said. “You guys are at the ballpark and supporting the team and baseball in Clinton, Iowa and we appreciate that.”
That being said, no baseball family is complete without their house. Ashford University Stadium will be undergoing some changes the next few months to keep improving the viewing experience for fans.
“It’s great to come to the games without the bells and whistles, it’s just baseball,” General Manager Ted Tornow said of the historic stadium known for it’s old school charm. “It’s an intimate setting and we want to keep it that way.”
While maintaing the history, the LumberKings front office is working on updating the stadium to keep it modern. It’s the biggest renovation at the stadium since 2006 thanks to a grant received by Friends of Riverview Stadium form the Clinton County Development Association.
One of these additions is a ribbon board that will be located over the right field fence.
“We don’t have a video board, we don’t have a centerfield camera,” Tornow said. “The ribbon board will be a nice touch.”
They are also adding front entrance monitors on the concourse where physical signs currently sit.
Tornow also talked about the on-field improvements like new batting screen, new protective netting, field tarps, new pitchers mounds and new dugout benches. A new flagpole will be erected in left field as well.
“These are just some things that we should have had, but now we’re actually doing,” Tornow said.
The players will see benefits as well. The clubhouse has a new garage door and there have been heaters installed.
“When there is inclement weather and it is 35 degrees in that tunnel we can crank the heat on and these guys can get some work done,” Tornow said. “It’s important for their development and quite frankly it’s important if we want to keep the Mariners here. Some other clubs are stepping up their game and we need to keep up.”
There have been some new grills and a ice cream machine installed in the concession stands. The entire stadium facade will get new paint and repairs along with concrete on the concourse.
Fans will also see new patio benches, new tables and chairs, playground equipment and bathroom improvements. Plus, the LumberKings are redoing some fences and security features.
“Today’s world you just don’t know,” Tornow said. “Your safety and you enjoyment: that’s my job.”
In 2006, the Friends of Riverview Stadium sold personalized bricks. Those are on sale again and all the existing bricks will be redone in order to make them easier to read and be preserved.
Many of the improvements and changes will be done yet this winter and ready come April for opening day. Parking lot improvements on the west side of the stadium will be done later this summer.