Modern Woodmen Park
Review by Gary
During my road trip across America in 2016, I stopped in Davenport to check out the Field of Dreams movie site as well as a ballpark that has been in place along the banks of the Mississippi River since 1931. Modern Woodmen Park (MWP) is home of the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League. Formerly John O’Donnell Stadium and Memorial Stadium, the naming rights were awarded in 2007 to the Modern Woodmen Society. For once, I approve of this sponsorship as the Modern Woodmen Society provides aid and relief from sundry difficulties.
Renovations done before the 2004 season included a nine-foot-high berm that provided a lawn seating area for fans. The berm was also supposed to act as a floodwall around the entire stadium. Previously, the stadium had no protection from river flooding, which caused the team to play home games at other parks when the spring floods came. Unfortunately, the stadium is still prone to flooding, which sends the Bandits on long road trips anyways. These renovations included the removal of the awesome grandstand roof and replacing it with open-air seating.
The capacity was reduced by about 1,200 seats to 4,024. The new seating runs about 15 rows from field level and is predominantly all at one level, causing me to imagine the better views one may have had from the steeper seats under the old roof. The views of the river and the Centennial Bridge are still quite pleasing, even on the rainy morning I visited the ballpark.
Another addition to MWP was the planting of corn in the left field corner. By mid-season, the corn grows high enough so that the River Bandits come running out of the cornfield during pre-game introductions, just like in the movie Field of Dreams.
Just beyond the left field wall sits a 110-foot Ferris wheel. The owners must have really felt that having an amusement park was necessary at a baseball stadium because the Ferris Wheel would be just the first of many rides and attractions that would be added to MWP, like the double-decker carousel from San Francisco’s Pier 39. The MWP web site has a link to the prices of all of the amusements, but nothing about the history of the ballpark. The only tie I could see to the original stadium was the press box being named after John O’Donnell, the longtime sports editor of the local paper.
I would like to recognize the nice office staff that allowed me quick access to the park on the morning of a night game. For that kindness, I’ll give an extra ½ dog to my review. Maybe, I’ll return one day to catch a game and a bumper car ride.