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.