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Home Field: Dow Diamond, Midland, MI

There’s no denying that the Great Lake Loons is a great minor-league baseball team name. It’s cute, concise, geographically relevant, and a fun reference to baseball fandom. The Loons are based in Midland, MI, near numerous Great Lakes. Midland probably is best known as the headquarters for Dow Inc. 

Dow has been deeply involved with the baseball franchise. The company donated the land for the stadium and bought its naming rights. An early adherent to corporate green policies, Dow also has been influential in the sustainability efforts at Dow Diamond

When the stadium was built, bricks were collected and used for the outfield warning track. It was outfitted with waterless urinals, creating an annual savings of approximately 400,000 gallons of water

“There are a lot of smart, innovative things that can and are being done,” Paul Barbeau, Loons’ then-president and general manager, stated after the stadium opened in 2007 to “Sports Business Journal.” “But some of this is simply doing the work and being consistent about your efforts, such as what we do going through sifting out bottles from all the bags of garbage after every game for recycling.”

“If you’ve ever done something like that, you’ll know it’s no easy feat, but that stuff adds up and makes a difference,” he continued.

Photo Courtesy Michigan Baseball Foundation

Dow and its then-affiliated company, Dow Corning, were instrumental in the donation of 168 solar panels that can produce nearly 30 kWh at peak times. Not only is this enough to power the ballpark’s 612-square-foot scoreboard, but it also saves 54,000 kWh and almost $5,500 a year. 

In 2012, the team received a major grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) to upgrade Dow Diamond with Occupancy Control Sensors, which optimize lighting usage and LED fixtures. These two changes save nearly 60,000 kilowatt-hours, dropping energy usage at the stadium by more than 3.5% and lowering carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50,000 pounds annually.  

“The WIN grant allowed us to focus on our most difficult sustainability goal — energy use reduction — in an effective way,” Barbeau explained. He added that this project “encourages other area businesses and our fans to make similar efforts to conserve resources and reduce costs.”

Photo Courtesy MiLB

Around that same time, the Loons launched a new composting plan at Dow Diamond, with the collected compostable items processed into fertilizer for use at the stadium’s grounds and flower beds. This initiative doubles up on its environmental benefits: decreasing landfill waste and lowering the need for commercial fertilizer. The team also started a program of donating unused concession food to local organizations.

That the Loons have been quite invested in their community makes perfect since the team’s owner is the Michigan Baseball Foundation (MBF).

According to the “Midland Daily News,” this 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity was founded with the mission to not only bring baseball to the Great Lakes Bay Region but also to “utilize America’s pastime as a vehicle to spur economic development and provide charitable giving to nonprofits throughout the region.”

Photo Courtesy Michigan Baseball Foundation

Since 2008, the MBF has awarded around $1.3 million in grants to more than 300 deserving nonprofit groups across 14 counties in the Loons’ vicinity. The team has also provided a similar amount of money for nonprofits through projects like a ticket fundraising program and in-kind donations for benefit events. 

For several years, Dow Diamond has presented the “Great Lakes Bay Polar Plunge,” raising more than $40,000 for Special Olympics Michigan. The stadium also has hosted a school supplies drive to benefit almost 800 teachers in Midland County, while the Loons raised more than $40,000 in 2022 alone for the MBF and Big Brothers Big Sister of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Loons’ Reading Program also doubled its student participants in 2023, with more than 20,000 kids enrolling. 

One of the team’s integral pillars is “VoLOONteerism,” an outreach program where Loon employees participate in local projects. Going back to 2010, front office personnel lent a hand in planting native Michigan trees in Chippewa Nature Center at an Arbor Day event

More recently, front office VoLUNteers helped Side Soup Kitchen and Hidden Harvest serve over 700 meals. Members of the Loons’ Grounds Crew and the Loons Front Office team assisted in renovating youth baseball fields. Folks from beverage and food services have teamed with area nonprofits to raise over $75,000 for these organizations. 

Photo Courtesy Michigan Baseball Foundation

When Loons partnered with Dow and Dow Corning, the team took full advantage of this relationship by tapping these companies who were well-known corporate sustainability policies. Loons staff members meet with sustainability leaders at those companies to learn how to operate the team in a green way. 

“We are striving to take their best practices and apply them to our regional organization,” Barbeau shared in 2012 with “Ballpark Digest.” “We believe that the extended focus on planet initiatives will enhance our sustainability efforts.” Based on their results a decade later, the Loons can be proud of their winning work. 


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