The Mississippi River may have sunk the opportunity to get a Ferris wheel up and running at Modern Woodmen Park this year.

The river, expected to crest today, has circled the ballpark, leaving the ground where the Ferris wheel was to go underwater. Even when the water recedes, construction on the pad where the attraction will sit can't start until the waterlogged ground is dry.

"Our engineering team is not recommending construction," Public Works Director Mike Clarke said after city officials learned of the river's rapid rise last week.

Earlier this year, the city and Quad-Cities River Bandits announced they would partner on a 90-foot Ferris wheel behind left field. Davenport Aldermen were to consider three requests for proposals this week for separate segments of work that would have sped up construction.

Dave Heller, managing partner of Main Street Baseball, owner of the Quad-Cities River Bandits, wanted the Ferris wheel in operation by July 3.

Clarke said he expects the river to stay above flood stage for about two weeks, so the ground wouldn't have a chance to start drying until at least early May. How long it would take to dry out involves a number of factors.

"When that occurs is anybody's guess, but I think it is going to be months," he said.

City Administrator Craig Malin informed the Davenport City Council at last week's meeting, telling them, "My expectation is that we may have to wait one season for the Ferris wheel and have it ready for opening day."

Heller is taking a more cautious approach.

"The last conversation I had with the city administrator was that we don’t really have to make a decision now or anytime this month on the installation," he said. "We'll wait and see where the water is at the end of the month and make an informed decision."

He understands if that informed decision leaves him Cubby blue, having to wait until next year.

"If you can’t get it up and running until the first of September when the season is over, that doesn’t make sense to anybody," he said. "We're already working together and play the hand we are dealt.

"Everybody is excited about bringing a Ferris wheel to Modern Woodmen Park, and that excitement hasn’t changed," he said. "At this point, it is a timing issue. We are going to do it as quickly as possible once the water has receded and we have an opportunity to do it."

Modern Woodmen still will have zipline ride this summer, while Heller also is pushing for a 16-seat, 4-D theater to add to a menagerie of family-friendly attractions at the ballpark.

(20) comments


I think the ferris wheel idea is great. Why do some many people around here so reluctant to do something positive for the area withPRIVATE money?


Instead of putting it in the flooded Modern Woodman Park, put it next to Schweibert Park right across the river.

At least go to Rock Island and learn how to have a high and dry riverfront and downtown. They figured it out in the 1960's.

Davenport is living 50 years in the past and has spent millions of dollars fighting the river ever year.

credit island

1. Resolution approving plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated cost for site preparation of the Modern Woodmen Park Ferris Wheel Project, CIP Project #10481. [Ward 2]
2. Resolution approving plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated cost for the Hilltop Sidewalk Project, CIP Project #10455. [Ward 5]
3. Resolution approving plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated cost for the Renovation of Davenport Fire Station #7, CIP Project #02400. [Ward 2]
(should be Ward 3)


You obviously don't know your wards.

Arc Angel

Let Credit Island go also ! Not worth it!


Of course if Davenport had a permanent flood protection system along its Riverfront this would be a moot point. Construction could already be underway.


This isn't being paid for by taxes.


If the ground is too wet for footings, then what will happen after the thing is built? Suppose another flood comes along. Now the ground is saturated, and you have the entire weight of the gizmo resting on footings that are in saturated soil. A Ferris wheel is a pretty heavy piece of iron. Not too hard to picture it atilt.


Think bedrock Klaatu...and I'm not talking about the city that Fred Flintstone lived in. That's why I am curious about the reason for the delay. Waterlogged ground? If the plan was to go down to bedrock, the construction crew was going to have to deal with water anyway. Soggy ground and all.

From the QC Times, April 3...."A reinforced concrete base will include eight caissons 5 to 8 feet in diameter that will go down to bedrock about 25 to 35 feet deep, Public Works director Mike Clarke said."


This wasn't going to happen this year anyway. The flood is just P.T Heller's excuse when he wasn't able to get everyone on board with an unrealistic timeline.


This project does not use tax money. I think that has been in every article about this and in every comment board about this. The owners of the Bandits pay the city $300,000 a year to lease the city owned stadium to be able to play there. As part of the lease agreement the city will invest $300,000 back into the stadium for capital improvements. Main Street is just using money from the next 5 years lease payments. So the money is a wash and is being paid for by the thousands of Iowan AND ILLINOISAN who enjoy going to the games every year. The only reason city council has a say in this at all is that it is a city building and city land.


The reason they give for delay seems kind of strange to me. We can dam and bridge rivers, but we can't construct a concrete base after the flood waters recede because the ground will be too soggy? And if the river floods again next spring, do they wait yet another year?


If you have to fill your ballpark with amusement park attractions to get people to buy a ticket, maybe it's time to get out of the baseball business and into the amusement park business.

credit island

Davenport taxpayers paying for this:
3. Resolution awarding the contract and conditionally approving the executed contract for the Earth Work Contract in relation to the Site Preparation of the Modern Woodmen Park Ferris Wheel Project in the amount of $ CIP Project #10481.

senor citizen

Maybe they can build the world's first Ferris Wheel surrounded by a moat. The Sky Bridge over looking nothing and going nowhere could be turned into a drawbridge.


When are the people of Davenport going to demand responsible spending on the part of their mayor and other city leaders? Instead of spending money on frivolous items (ferris wheels and riverboats) why not fix the antiquated sewer system which has caused so many backups this past week in the basements of not only Davenport residents but also the homes of people bordering the city?


If you had paid attention to what's going on in Davenport, you would know that the city has been working on the antiquated sewer system for the last 4 years. Another low information voter.

credit island

Mr. Clarke,
In your engineers free time could you have them come up with a plan to fix the freaking alleys in this town?
Thank you.


What is the city thinking? That area floods almost every year. Spend our tax money on something worthwhile, like repairing the streets.

Arc Angel

When 18 inch's of snow melt in MINN. ,a 2nd flood will come in June, and then the May flies. Do you history! Can't fix stupid!

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