Modern Woodmen Park

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Modern Woodmen Park
Modern Woodmen Park.PNG
Modern Woodmen Park.jpg
Former namesMunicipal Stadium (1931–1971)
John O'Donnell Stadium (1971–2007)
Location209 South Gaines Street
Davenport, IA 52802
Coordinates41°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
OwnerCity of Davenport
OperatorMain Street Iowa
Capacity? (1931–1940s)
6,200 (1940s–1961)
8,500 (1962–1988)
5,200 (1989–2003)
4,024 (2004–present)
Field sizeLeft field: 343 feet (105 m)
Left center field: 383 feet
Center field: 400 feet (102 m)
Right center field: 370 feet
Right field: 318 feet (97 m)
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke groundNovember 6, 1930[1]
OpenedMay 26, 1931[3]
Renovated1989, 2004
Construction cost$185,000 (1931)
($3.05 million in 2018 dollars[2])
$12.5 million (2004 renovation)[3]
ArchitectClausen, Kruse & Klein (original)[1]
Populous (1989, 1999, 2004 renovations)
General contractorTunnicliff Construction Company[1]
Tenants
Baseball
Quad Cities River Bandits (MWL) (1931–present)
Football
Assumption High School (–1987)
St. Ambrose Fighting Bees (NAIA) (–1987)

Modern Woodmen Park (known previously as John O'Donnell Stadium and Municipal Stadium) is a minor league baseball venue located in Davenport, Iowa, United States. It is home to the Quad Cities River Bandits, a Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. 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]

As night games became more necessary, Davenport teams were playing at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, without lights. The city of Davenport realized a lighted stadium, downtown, on the riverfront, would be ideal. Proposed by the Davenport Levee Commission, Municipal Stadium opened May 26, 1931, within LeClaire Park. The ballpark was built at a cost of $185,000. The first night game was June 4, 1931.[4][5]

Expansions in the 1940s and in 1962 brought capacity up to 6,200 and 8,500 respectively.[6] 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.[4][5]


John O'Donnell Stadium, May 5, 2001

On May 27, 1971, the stadium was renamed John O'Donnell Stadium in honor of the longtime sports editor of the Davenport Times-Democrat, shortly following his death.[5] 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.[7]

Football tenants[edit]

For many years, Modern Woodmen Park played host to football games in the fall. Both 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 in 1988. The football bleachers and press box along left field were removed in 1989.[5]

2000s–present renovations[edit]

Renovations done before the 2004 season included a nine-foot-high berm that provided a lawn seating area for fans. The berm also acted as a flood wall around the entire stadium.[8] Until that point, the facility had no protection from Mississippi River flooding, which caused the team to play home games at other parks during 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.[citation needed] In spring 2019, the surrounding area was flooded but the ballpark remained above water.[9]

After the 2007 season, new owners Dave Heller and Bob Herrfeldt of Main Street Baseball 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. In 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.[10][11] 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.[12]

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.[13] Prior to the 2010 season, the City of Davenport and Main Street Baseball replaced the entire field, to facilitate proper drainage and minimize rain-outs. Other changes for 2010 included a new concession stand on the Picnic Plaza level and a new group terrace next to the Tiki Village beyond the right-center field fence.

Modern Woodmen Park Ferris wheel, 2014

In 2014, the facility received another addition, as a 110-foot Ferris wheel was constructed just beyond the left field wall.[14] In 2017, the park added a double-decker carousel purchased from Pier 39 in San Francisco.[15]

Joshua Hill pitch, Centennial Bridge from the Ballpark 2003

Awards[edit]

For both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Modern Woodmen Park won the "Best Ballpark Improvement" Award from Ballparkdigest.com, the industry's leading publication.[16]

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.[17][18]

In 2018, Modern Woodmen Park finished third in the "Best View in the Minors" competition, finishing behind El Paso's Southwest University Park and Altoona's Peoples Natural Gas Field.[19]

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.[20]

The 2006 and 2011 Midwest League All-Star Games were held at Modern Woodmen Park. Previously, the ballpark hosted Midwest League All-Star Games in 1964, 1968, 1975, 1980, 1982 and 1990, giving the facility a total of eight.[21][22]

In summer 2007, portions of the film Sugar were shot at the park. This 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.[23]

The stadium was the site of the "Rumble on the Riverbank" boxing match on May 10, 1991. Michael Nunn, a Davenport native, lost the IBF middleweight title to James Toney.[24]

"Mississippi River Jam II" was held on June 3, 1979, featuring AC/DC, Heart, UFO TKO and Nazareth.[25]

The facility has hosted many concerts by many artists, including: Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, Johnny Winter, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Blue Öyster Cult, Eddie Money, Edgar Winter Group and Lonestar.[26][27] Johnny Cash played at the stadium twice, in 1974 and 1976, drawing over 10,000 each time and playing for free.[28]

On October 1, 1936, an exhibition game featuring major-league players and Negro National League All Stars included Baseball Hall of Fame players Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Rogers Hornsby and Johnny Mize.[5]

Media[edit]

The stadium and teams were the subject of a book. Baseball historian Tim Rask wrote Baseball at Davenport's John O'Donnell Stadium, released in 2004.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Souvenir Program. Quad City River Bandits. 2006. p. 14.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e Batterson, Steve. "Municipal pride John O'Donnell Stadium turns 75". Qctimes.com. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  6. ^ Dinda, Joe. "Davenport's Modern Woodmen Park". MWL Guide. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Batterson, Steve (December 13, 2007). "JOD Has a New Name". Quad-City Times. Retrieved December 13, 2007.
  8. ^ Batterson, Steve (June 19, 2004). "Flood Has Little Effect on JOD". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Gaydos, Ryan (May 16, 2019). "Mississippi River flooding forces minor league baseball team to play 40 of 43 games on road". Fox News. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Batterson, Steve (May 19, 2008). "River Bandits Blast Past Peoria". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  11. ^ Batterson, Steve (May 28, 2008). "Bandits Fall in Extra Innings at Home". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  12. ^ Batterson, Steve (April 23, 2008). "River Bandits Keep Flood Waters Out, Put Corn In". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  13. ^ Batterson, Steve (November 18, 2008). "River Bandits to Install Video Ribbon Board in Outfield". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  14. ^ Wundram, Bill (May 21, 2014). "Ballpark Ferris Wheel Takes Its First Riders for a Spin". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  15. ^ "Double-Decker Carousel". Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  16. ^ "Awards & Honors". Minor League Baseball. October 8, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "Best Minor League Park Winners: 2013 10Best Reader's Choice Travel Awards". 10best. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  18. ^ Batterson, Steve (August 14, 2013). "Davenport's Ballpark Is Chosen As the Nation's Best". Quad-City Times. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  19. ^ "THE BEST View in the Minors (MiLB) - Vote Now!". TheBallparkGuide.com. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  20. ^ Geyer, Thomas (April 29, 2004). "Fans Pack Newly Renovated Facility as Swing Win 1-0". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  21. ^ Doxsie, Don (June 21, 2006). "Event at John O'Donnell Goes on Despite Obstacles". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  22. ^ Batterson, Steve (June 21, 2011). "Minors President: Q-C Scene a Thing of Beauty". Quad-City Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  23. ^ Burke, David (April 16, 2009). "Iowa Likely to See Rise in Movie Production". Quad-City Times. Retrieved April 16, 2009.
  24. ^ Merron, Jeff (March 5, 2004). "'Ropes' Tied by Fact or Fiction?". ESPN. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  25. ^ "On This Day In AC/DC History...June 3rd, 1979". Wncx.cbslocal.com. June 3, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  26. ^ "John O'Donnell Stadium, Davenport, IA, USA Concert Setlists". Setlist.fm. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  27. ^ "Municipal Stadium, Davenport, IA, USA Concert Setlists". Setlist.fm. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  28. ^ "Sober or not, Cash took Q-C by storm". Qctimes.com. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]