Despite a 59 percent increase in total attendance over the last two seasons, the Quad Cities River Bandits know they could have done better. A poor playing field with well-below-average drainage led to a league-high 16 weather-related lost openings during that time, many of which occurred beneath sunny skies that were no match for rainfall that was unable to drain from the outfield.
The River Bandits are determined to make sure that does not happen again. On Wednesday, Bush Sports Turf of Milan, Ill., literally broke ground on a playing field renovation project that will not only address the drainage issues left behind following the stadium’s 2004 renovation, but will also upgrade the field conditions beyond Minor League Baseball standards.
“If there is a baseball game scheduled at Modern Woodmen Park, we are going to do everything within our power to make sure it is played,” said team owner Dave Heller. “It is not fair to our fans to have to postpone a game because we inherited a playing surface that was built below standard. We are tired of leading the league in rainouts. This project is about improving the quality of our playing field, and making sure that our fans never leave the ballpark disappointed. Whether we’re talking about promotions, concessions, entertainment or our playing surface, we will not rest until Modern Woodmen Park is second to none.”
The project is part of the strong partnership between the Quad Cities River Bandits and the City of Davenport, and is being conducted by Bush Sports Turf, a locally owned and operated athletic field and landscape contractor that has become an innovative and respected leader in the turf industry. They rebuilt the field at Dodger Stadium prior to the 2009 season, and they have also overseen the field at the University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, the TPC golf course at Deere Run, and the playing surface at Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium.
“We’re excited to be a part of this project, and to correct the playing field of the ballpark we consider to be our ‘home’ stadium,” added Steve Bush, owner of Bush Sports Turf. “We know this field better than anyone, and are confident that when we are finished, this will be one of the nicest ballparks, Major or Minor League, in the entire Midwest.”
The new playing surface at Modern Woodmen Park will be a two-tiered field with a gravel base below a layer of sand and peat. There will be 10 inches of root zone, all of which is designed optimize the field’s ability to drain water while providing an even surface that plays true.
“We are pleased that this project is underway and the Modern Woodmen Park playing surface is getting a much needed remodeling,” said River Bandits vice president and general manager, Kirk Goodman. “It’s great to have one of the nation’s leaders in sports turf based in our own back yard so that we can have a top-notch company working on our field. Nothing is more frustrating for a fan than coming to a ballgame on a sunny evening only to watch it get rained out because of storms that occurred earlier in the morning. Thanks to this project, that should no longer be a problem.”