Modern Woodmen Park

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Modern Woodmen Park
Modern Woodmen Park.PNG
Modern Woodmen Park.jpg
Former names Municipal Stadium (1931–1971)
John O'Donnell Stadium (1971–2007)
Location 209 South Gaines Street
Davenport, IA 52802
Coordinates 41°31′7.21″N 90°34′56.07″W / 41.5186694°N 90.5822417°W / 41.5186694; -90.5822417Coordinates: 41°31′7.21″N 90°34′56.07″W / 41.5186694°N 90.5822417°W / 41.5186694; -90.5822417
Owner City of Davenport
Operator Main Street Iowa
Capacity 4,024[1]
Field size Left field: 343 feet (105 m)
Center field: 400 feet (122 m)
Right field: 318 feet (97 m)[1]
Surface Grass
Construction
Broke ground November 6, 1930[2]
Opened May 26, 1931[4]
Renovated 1989, 2004
Construction cost $185,000 (1931)
($2.87 million in 2014 dollars[3])
$12.5 million (2004 renovation)[4]
Architect Clausen, Kruse & Klein (original)[2]
HOK Sport (2004 renovation)
General contractor Tunnicliff Construction Company[2]
Tenants
Quad Cities River Bandits (MWL)

Modern Woodmen Park (known previously as John O'Donnell Stadium), is a minor league baseball venue located in Davenport, Iowa, United States. It is home to the Quad Cities River Bandits, a single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, in the shadow of the Centennial Bridge. Home run balls to right field often land in the river.

History[edit]

Modern Woodmen Park was built in 1931, and was originally known as Municipal Stadium and sat 5,500. Expansions in the 1940s and in 1962 brought capacity up to 6,200 and 8,500 respectively.[5] It is one of the oldest ballparks still in use in all of the minor leagues, although it underwent a major renovation before the 1989 season, lowering the seating capacity to 5,200 and before the 2004 season that brought the ballpark up to modern professional baseball standards and a seating capacity of 4,024.

In 1971 the stadium was renamed from Municipal Stadium to John O'Donnell Stadium in honor of the longtime sports editor of the Davenport Times-Democrat, shortly following his death. John O'Donnell Stadium was renamed Modern Woodmen Park on December 12, 2007, after Rock Island-based Modern Woodmen of America purchased the naming rights to the facility. O'Donnell's name remains on the ballpark's press box, and is also hidden underneath the main entry marquee, etched into the façade of the stadium, in a single limestone block.[6]

In earlier years, Modern Woodmen Park played host to high school football games. Assumption High School (a private Catholic high school in Davenport) and Saint Ambrose College called the field home until 1987, when both schools began playing at Brady Street Stadium. It was also the site of the "Rumble on the Riverbank" boxing match on May 10, 1991, where local boxer Michael Nunn lost the IBF middleweight title to James Toney.[7]

The renovations done before the 2004 season include a nine-foot-high berm that provides a lawn seating area for fans. The berm also acts as a floodwall around the entire stadium.[8] Until that point, it had no flood protection from Mississippi River flooding, causing the home team to play home games at other parks whenever the river floods. During the Great Flood of 1993, photos of water creeping across the playing field at the ballpark made national publications and became somewhat of a symbol of the flood.

After the 2007 season, new owners Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt of Main Street Baseball came in and reinvigorated both the ballpark and the franchise. They sold naming rights to Modern Woodmen in a record 20-year deal, changed the name of the franchise back to "River Bandits," and made numerous improvements to the ballpark. For 2008, the club added a hot tub deck in right field, as well as a "tiki village," featuring three tiki bars, a covered tiki lounge, and a king-sized tiki bed beyond the right field wall.[9][10] They also excavated a gravel area along the left-field foul line and planted field corn; by mid-season the corn grows high enough so that the home-team players are introduced at the beginning of the game and come running out of the corn field, just like in the movie Field of Dreams.[11]

Modern Woodmen Park from the Centennial Bridge

For 2009, Main Street Baseball continued to make improvements, adding a new 80-foot-long (24 m), 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) high-definition ribbon board along the right field fence and installing four new concourse-level "loge boxes" to accommodate small groups of people.[12] Prior to the 2010 season, the City of Davenport and Main Street Baseball replaced the entire field, to facilitate proper drainage and minimize rainouts. Other new changes for 2010 include a new concession stand on the Picnic Plaza level and a colorful new group terrace next to the Tiki Village beyond the right-center field fence. In 2014, the facility received another noteworthy addition, as a 110-foot Ferris wheel was constructed just beyond the left field wall.[13]

For both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Modern Woodmen Park won the coveted "Best Ballpark Improvement" Award from Ballparkdigest.com, the industry's leading publication.[14]

In 2013, the park was voted as the top minor-league ballpark in the United States in a USA Today and 10best.com reader poll. Modern Woodmen Park beat second place Louisville Slugger Field by around 2,000 votes.[15][16]

Notable Events[edit]

The River Bandits (then known as the Swing of the Quad Cities) defeated the Burlington Bees, 1–0, in the first game at the renovated Modern Woodmen Park on April 29, 2004.[17] The 2006 Midwest League All-Star Game was held here,[18] and the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game was held here in late June.[19]

In the summer of 2007, portions of the critically acclaimed film Sugar was shot here, which included 800–1,000 people a night showing up to be extras. The movie follows the path of a young man from the impoverished Dominican Republic as he chases dreams of baseball stardom in America.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Quad City River Bandits (2006). Souvenir Program. p. 42. 
  2. ^ a b c Rask, Tim (2004). Baseball at Davenport's John O'Donnell Stadium. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-3247-9. Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Souvenir Program. Quad City River Bandits. 2006. p. 14. 
  5. ^ Dinda, Joe. "Davenport's Modern Woodmen Park". MWL Guide. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Batterson, Steve (December 13, 2007). "JOD Has a New Name". Quad-City Times. Retrieved December 13, 2007. 
  7. ^ Merron, Jeff (March 5, 2004). "'Ropes' Tied by Fact or Fiction?". ESPN. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ Batterson, Steve (June 19, 2004). "Flood Has Little Effect on JOD". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ Batterson, Steve (May 19, 2008). "River Bandits Blast Past Peoria". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ Batterson, Steve (May 28, 2008). "Bandits Fall in Extra Innings at Home". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  11. ^ Batterson, Steve (April 23, 2008). "River Bandits Keep Flood Waters Out, Put Corn In". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  12. ^ Batterson, Steve (November 18, 2008). "River Bandits to Install Video Ribbon Board in Outfield". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ Wundram, Bill (May 21, 2014). "Ballpark Ferris Wheel Takes Its First Riders for a Spin". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Awards & Honors". Minor League Baseball. October 8, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Best Minor League Park Winners: 2013 10Best Reader's Choice Travel Awards". 10best. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  16. ^ Batterson, Steve (August 14, 2013). "Davenport's Ballpark Is Chosen As the Nation's Best". Quad-City Times. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  17. ^ Geyer, Thomas (April 29, 2004). "Fans Pack Newly Renovated Facility as Swing Win 1-0". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ Doxsie, Don (June 21, 2006). "Event at John O’Donnell Goes on Despite Obstacles". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  19. ^ Batterson, Steve (June 21, 2011). "Minors President: Q-C Scene a Thing of Beauty". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  20. ^ Burke, David (April 16, 2009). "Iowa Likely to See Rise in Movie Production". Quad-City Times. Retrieved April 16, 2009. 

External links[edit]