Flooding is forcing the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) to move its opening series from Modern Woodmen Park to Burlington’s Community Field, as the city and the team are unable to install a pedestrian bridge to the ballpark.
Mississippi River flooding had been an issue for the former John O’Donnell Stadium for decades, but a renovation unveiled for the 2004 season introduced a flood wall system (later expanded in 2010) that kept the ballpark and its playing surface dry even during river crests. Also added to Modern Woodmen Park: a portable pedestrian bridge that extended to River Drive, allowing folks to cross a flooded parking lot to the ballpark.
That bridge also goes over the Canadian Pacific Railroad line, but improvements to the rail line is keeping the trains running despite the flood waters. With the trains running, the bridge can’t be installed, and without the bridge, the team and the league decided to shift the opening series to the home of the Burlington Bees, with the River Bandits playing as the home team.
The flood wall at Modern Woodmen Park allows the rapid reuse of the ballpark once flood waters recede. Baseball will resume in the Quad Cities as soon as the ballpark can be safely accessed by the public. The next River Bandits’ home stand is scheduled to begin April 15 at Modern Woodmen Park. Those games are still planned to be played in Davenport; the city, the league and the team will make a decision about whether those games are able to be played at Modern Woodmen Park the week of April 8 based on weather and flood conditions at that time.
”Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park is the greatest place to watch a baseball game,” said Brandon Wright, CFO/Assistant City Administrator for the City of Davenport. “We look forward to it being open as soon as possible and appreciate the partnership the city has with the River Bandits and Minor League Baseball so that the games this week will still be played while we deal with the flood.”
“We appreciate so much all of the great work being done by the City of Davenport Public Works Department to protect Modern Woodmen Park,” said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. “The ballpark looks great and has been untouched by the flood waters surrounding it. Unfortunately, though, without the pedestrian bridge we are unable to receive any deliveries of food and supplies and we have no way for our staff or the public to access the ballpark. We are grateful to Kim Parker and all of our friends with the Burlington Bees for opening up their park to host our first two games and invite all of our fans to join us in making the drive down to Burlington to see the Bandits open their season.”
“I continue to be impressed how well the City of Davenport and the River Bandits are able to navigate the challenges the Mississippi River sometimes throws their way,” said Midwest League President Dick Nussbaum. “It is a beautiful backdrop 99% of the time but that other one percent requires everyone to work together. You all have done it again. I am also thankful to the Burlington Bees for their willingness to help in this opening series. It is going to be a great season in the Midwest League.”
“We look forward to opening in Burlington and appreciate the work of the City of Davenport, the Burlington Bees and our friends at St. Ambrose during this time,” said River Bandits general manager Jacqueline Holm. “We have the best fans in baseball and look forward to bringing baseball back to Modern Woodmen Park very soon.”