A week before St. Ambrose University files a zoning request for a sports complex at the former St. Vincent's property, frustration is starting to show on both sides of the issue.

About 300 people attended a meeting Monday hosted by the university to recruit supporters of the project. St. Ambrose wants to build a 2,500-seat stadium, a softball venue, soccer and practice fields as well as a 410-space parking lot on the 45-acre lot at 780 W. Central Park Ave., three blocks north of the college.

The university will make formal application for the project to the city on Monday.

Mike Poster, St. Ambrose's vice president of finance, told the crowd what the university wants to do and explained that light, sound, traffic, parking and stormwater studies have been done. The university and neighboring Assumption High School would share the football, softball and some of the practice facilities. Each school would likely host about five home football games per year.

"The one thing that frustrates me more than anything is when people say this isn't the right place for this," Poster said. "It is already a sports complex. For 350 days a year, we are going to use this the way it is already used now."

He told the group that the university has worked to meet neighbors' concerns, including reducing the size of the proposed stadium from 5,000 seats.

"We don't get enough credit for this," Poster told the room at the Rogalski Center on the university's campus. "We think we've come half way, and the neighbors have to come their half."

The Neighborhood Relations Council, a go-between for neighbors and St. Ambrose, met recently and voted 27-0 against supporting the project. The resolution passed at the March 20 meeting stated:

"We reject the entire application and encourage St Ambrose and the city to work together with all the parties in locating suitable sites to allow for future growth of the university, which we, the members of the N.R.C., support."

Jim Welch, a neighbor who opposes the project and serves on the Neighborhood Relations Council, said the neighbors have grown frustrated with any discussions with the university. He said neighbors don't trust the results of some of the studies done by St. Ambrose.

"What they are saying is being taken at face value," Welch said. "We've grown pretty weary of their condescending attitude."

Poster said at the meeting he thinks a reason some neighbors oppose the project is distrust in the process and the studies the university has done.

"There is a distrust by people in the neighborhood that don't think it will come together like we say it will," Poster said. "They are concerned about change in the neighborhood."

Alderman Mike Matson, 7th Ward, who represents the neighborhood north of the St. Vincent's property and has attended several meetings about the project, said passions are high on both sides. The RiverCenter in downtown Davenport has been discussed as the location for a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing on May 6 and a vote on the rezoning request on May 20. The concern is that City Hall wouldn't be able to accommodate the expected crowd.

A Facebook page, "SAU stadium yes," had 2,369 likes for supporting the project. Created by 1996 alum Pete Ivanic, he said it started tongue in cheek after he posted a comment comparing the project to the construction of a major league ballpark. It drew 50 comments.

Ivanic said he was surprised initially by the interest when he created the page two months ago, but not anymore.

"The people of Davenport know that a facility like this is needed," he said. "It is great for recruiting. This will be great for generations to come."

Assumption pays more than $2,000 per game and forfeits concessions to play football games at Brady Street Stadium, Wade King, the school's athletic director said during the meeting.

"Assumption High School is a neighbor in favor of this project," he said. "I believe a complex like this would be far-reaching for our school."

(28) comments

billy hoyle

the residents should have pounced when SAU floated only Saturday games for SAU and AHS, it was the best deal you were going to get. In reality, getting the stadium halved in size is still a big win. SAU didn't have to do that. Rogalski Stadium was always a certainty. $ talks. Can't wait for that huge Keokuk game... yeah, 3A rules.

Vagabond

So you don't want a stadium within a thousand feet from you house? Tell you what, put your home on the marked at a fair market price and see how long it lasts. Remember, a fair market price and it will be sold in a week. You folks are sitting a a gold mine and can't see the forest through the trees. Listen, it's going to happen so embrace it. Let's go Knights and Bees!

lifelong resident

What do the neighbors who oppose this project wish SAU would do with this property? How would the neighbors feel if SAU surrendered this idea, sold the land to a for-profit, non-local developer and slid back south of Lombard for good? Is that what the neighbors want? Us non-Davenport residents are a little confused. I'd like to hear some positive ideas from the neighbors on what they'd like to see done with this property. Enough complaining. Let's hear some solid suggestions.

TR

To wincheb...Sounds as though you are in favor of the new SAU stadium being built in this area. I'm sure all the valuations that were done we're found in favor of SAU's new stadium...Surprise..Surprise.
Perhaps instead of building the new stadium in our area you may want to volunteer you're area of town for the new SAU stadium site. I'm sure the same valuations that were done here would also show favorably for your area as well. Or is it possible that you like ourselves, DO NOT want a Stadium in your back yard either.

wlncheb

I am in favor of the SAU stadium and if I lived in that area I would be embracing it. What better neighbor could you ask for; a few Friday night games, a few Saturday afternoon games; a track meet here and there.....the SAU campus is beautiful and well maintained. If my neighborhood was located anywhere close to SAU where they would like to build this project I would welcome them. You certainly would know who your neighbors would be and how it would be maintained for years to come.

TR

For those of you who are in favor of building the new SAU stadium in this area, obviously you don't live near here. NO ONE wants a stadium built in there back yard. One reason being it will most likely lower the property values in our area. The noise and traffic will definitely be a problem too. The City of Davenport seems to want to give the green light on SAU's new stadium so I'm sure it will be given the go-ahead. All we can say to the City Council and Mayor Gluba, "You will be remembered in the next election".

IntellectualHonesty
IntellectualHonesty

TR this is not true! President Emeritus Dr. Ed Rogalski and Athletic Director Ray Shovlain both live in the neighborhood and both support the stadium. Where is the neighbors studies if the don't believe SAU's studies?

As far as property values go.......look across the length of the city of Davenport just north of Locust street. Aside from the far east side of Davenport the only area to maintain any property value is in the SAU area and that is because SAU is an anchor of stability!

dallonc

I have never seen one realtor study, market analysis, etc. substantiating the claims of the "property values will crash" group.

Again, if this were the case, we'd see for sale signs all around Spartan Stadium and TouVelle Stadium with their renovations. I drive through those areas all the time, and nothing close to that is happening. If anything, these neighborhoods are increasing in attractiveness for people moving in.

GofA

Check out the time on market of some of those $700k places on north Jersey Ridge, especially the one right behind the new Kahl home. Do you think it will be easier to sell now that a casino is going up next to the Kahl home?
Again, in the case of Touvelle and Spartan, those stadiums were in place prior to the vast majority of home building around them. Again, one could choose to live next to a stadium (though in both these cases they are relatively well insulated with both space and trees).

dallonc

And again, if those places are such awful places to live as you think your neighborhood will be with this complex to benefit the future residents of our community, why aren't people abandoning homes in droves? To the person who asked if I would want this near my home, ABSOLUTELY! I'd love to be near a place with young role models for my kids on the field and that shows progress in our community. If you want to support the brain drain to Iowa City, Chicago, and Des Moines, that's your prerogative. Some of us actually think about more than our little piece of land.

wlncheb

Obviously you haven't attended any of the informational meetings that have been held or are chosing not to pay attention, All of the independent studies that have been performed indicate that St Ambrose will meet and in most cases exceed the requirements that the city has put forth.for noise, traffic, lighting and storm water. As far as property values, have the nay sayers had any valuations done? St Ambrose did and found that property values were not negatively impacted by the stadiums in PV or Bettendorf.

GofA

No property values were negatively impacted by PV and Bett stadiums because there were almost no houses around them when they were built. PV has houses on one side, all of which were built after the stadium. The closest housing to Bett is multi-family, all built after the stadium. SAU's stadium will be put in a neighborhood with existing homes on three sides. Inherent in the statement concerning regulations being met is that there will be more noise, traffic, light and storm water run off with the stadium than without.

camcw

I can't believe there were be much more noise or traffic than what the area experiences for 7 consecutive Sundays in the fall with Rising Knight football.

camcw

How do you compare a $700,000 home, to the homes in the area being debated? There are only so many people in the area that can afford a $700,000 home. And none of the homes in the area being discussed are valued anywhere near that much. Also, how do you compare a casino to a sports complex. The Casino will be operating 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The stadium that you are opposed to will be used at most 12 time a year for football games (and few track meets which aren't well attended). Finally since you brought up the where the Bett and PV stadiums are located on their property, I want to point out that this stadium will be well insulated by treees and space as well.

GofA

I was not directly comparing north Jersey Ridge to Glen Armil in terms of property values. North Jersey Ridge and the casino was brought up for the statement, "I have never seen one realtor study, market analysis, etc. substantiating the claims of the "property values will crash" group." If but 12 times yearly I would think the investment would be better spent? Rising Knights on Sunday afternoons from 12-4 with kids will be infinitely different than 2,500 (take your guess on the % of already drunk students) people converging for a night-time football game. The over/under on the trees in the plan versus actually planted will be the under.

excessPerson

The fact that this debate has gone on for so long is ridiculous. SAU has clearly done more than their fair share to be a good neighbor. They have obviously done their due diligence to ensure this project will have minimal impact on the area. I agree with some of the other commenters that SAU should revert back to the original plan of a 5,000 seat stadium, as their concessions on this project have clearly gone unappreciated. If the neighbors aren't going to offer any compromises from their end, I don't think SAU should either.

I hope the elected leaders of the City of Davenport will recognize how beneficial this project will be for the City and for SAU, which brings in a significant amount of money to the City and to the QC region.

GofA

SAU is an asset to Davenport and the Quad-Cities. Mike Poster must be alluding to AHS when he says the area is already being used as a sports complex because I have never seen anyone using the Sisters' field, even when there were some soccer goals on it. Everyone who is gung ho on building the stadium does not live in the neighborhood. The neighborhood has watched a well established, well manicured neighborhood slowly become gutted, to be filled with rental housing. Live in the neighborhood and have the cars ripping around and loudness at all hours. The distrust of the neighborhood comes from experience. To be fair it is the city that is to blame on allowing SAU to creep through Glen Armil instead of providing incentive to go south (already filled with rentals, ties into Hilltop, Palmer, etc). Brady Street stadium works. The city should allow SAU game only tailgating in the south lot. If SAU really wants to be a steward, then partner with the city to make Brady Street fit better SAU's goals. Shoe horning a stadium into a neighborhood will only denigrate and devalue that neighborhood. Surely that is not an outcome SAU wants to put onto its achievements list.

excessPerson

I fail to see what a multimillion dollar sports complex has to do with rental housing. Sports games being played in the vicinity of the neighborhood does not equate to more housing being rented out to students. If you have an issue with more and more housing in the area being made available to students, I suggest you take it up with the owners of those homes who recognize a good business opportunity to rent out the houses, who by attending a university in the Quad Cities, are contributing a substantial amount of money to the economy through the dollars they spend and the businesses that are drawn to college areas. It's not St. Ambrose that's renting those homes. Furthermore, St. Ambrose has been at it's current location for over 125 years, so I would go so far as to say that you should have considered what you were signing up for when you purchased a home with a university nearby (as I'm assuming you've lived in your home for less than 125 years).

And Brady Street Stadium clearly *doesn't* work for the needs of SAU, hence the reason they are looking to spend $25 million on this project. I don't think they just had the money laying around and are trying to find a way to get rid of it. I would hardly consider it "shoehorning a stadium" when they're building on a massive piece of open and unused land that provides them the room to build a football stadium with track, softball complex, multiple practice fields, and a large parking lot.

GofA

Only those within SAU could say ten years ago that whole blocks of well cared for homes would be turned into parking lots and student housing. As the plans became apparent long-time homeowners began to sell. No one wants to live across from a parking lot. Therefore, the buyers shifted from homeowners to landlords. One rental begets another, the neighborhood changes and so forth. If you lived in the neighborhood I am sure your perspective would be different. A stadium next door does not increase home value. I do not fault SAU for wanting its own deal, but does it really want to be proud of driving away entire neighborhoods? I have never heard from SAU why Brady Street does not work other than it "doesn't." Student loan defaults are another issue altogether. SAU is not alone in its huge growth being driven by easy to get loans that you and I are ultimately backing. If you are making money off the students, sock it away.

dallonc

"A stadium next door does not increase home value."

Someone forgot to tell the developers who continue to build very nice, high-value homes near the renovated Spartan Stadium at PV High School.

GofA

1.) The homes to the west of PV stadium were built after the stadium was in place. That is, the homeowners have a choice whether to live next to a stadium.
2.) Please take a look at Google maps or the like. The density of homes around the west side of PV compared to the density on the north, east and south of the proposed SAU stadium is not even close.

IntellectualHonesty
IntellectualHonesty

"""I have never heard from SAU why Brady Street does not work other than it "doesn't."""
Then you haven't listened! What SAU is attempting to do is get all their athletic facilities to one place..... If you were recruiting a football player to SAU would you take the to Brady Street Stadium to introduce them to their "home" field.

Neighborhoods change....you had no guarantees. This is life it is okay to fight it but to behave like SAU hasn't been more than accommodating is foolish!

GofA

I understand completely that SAU has the money, the property and the strong desire to have its own stadium. I do not fault SAU for wanting its own facility, but carving out in the middle of a 70 year old neighborhood when its current set up works (other than the ego stroke). In terms of recruiting SAU has been taking players to Brady Street for how many years? SAU's football record shows it does a solid job in its current stadium. Agreed there are no guarantees in life. Never have I said SAU has not tried its best to present its position.

kc6689

Build SAU build. I am neither an alum nor supporter of either SAU or Assumption. I don't have kids that go to either place. Accordingly, I consider myself objective in this debate. This is as no-brainer for our community; it's time for the 27 opponents to do their part. Small minds thinking small.

Vagabond

So as I read it, it's a measly 27 people who oppose the building of the stadium. That's 27 NIMBY's holding up millions of dollars of city revenue these students bring each year. Let's just raise taxes again to cover the state cutbacks so these old folks can be happy. Let them build!

FormerBeeProf
FormerBeeProf

Although I left St. Ambrose after working there for fifteen years, I continue to admire the university's good work - both as an academic institution and as a community partner. The sports complex project is yet another example of a potential win-win project for both the university and the community. My current employer has almost twice as many students as SAU on a campus in a similar residential setting, and its football stadium holds 6,000 spectators. The SAU neighbors will hardly know that there is a game being played on one of those five Saturdays! On a given morning on our campus, we see dozens of neighborhood residents walking or running on the track, walking over to the college pool for a swim, and chatting animatedly in our library's cafe. These facilities help integrate town and gown - they bring neighbors onto campus and share the benefits of the institution with them. Higher education is an increasingly competitive industry indeed, and St. Ambrose will maintain its competitiveness with these new facilities and continue to enrich the local QC community while doing so.

dallonc

With what exactly what in the engineering studies, performed by firms with years of experience and professional reputations to uphold, do the NRC members disagree? All I hear from them are Chicken Little "sky is falling" comments without hearing anything of substance about why they disagree. This project needs to happen. To have a top-notch athletic facility within walking distance of campus will only help bring a better caliber of student-athlete (and these are absolutely student-athletes, as virtually none of them will play sports professionally) to St. Ambrose. If these students have a good experience, they will want to stay here, get jobs here, and raise families here. That improves the tax base without tax increases (which I'm sure the NRC will also oppose since I think they would oppose me saying the sky is blue if they didn't believe it).

This project improves the overall community in a number of ways and should be passed. I'm sorry the NRC cannot look past their own situations and to the greater good of the community, but SAU has done more than enough to gather input and feedback.

ScottD

SAU has done way too much to get the support of these people who never intended in good faith to reach an agreement. Go ahead and build the 5,000 seat stadium! Most cities and neighborhoods would love to have thriving educational institutions in their community. SAU is in a very competitive industry. Given the superior facilities that its competitors have, this project is a matter of survival. Especially with the population of undergrads in the US projected to decrease. I think it would really do damage to the near and long term economic health of the city to reject or limit the project. If anything the City should be working with SAU to make this project as successful as possible.

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