Faculty, staff and alumni of St. Ambrose University hope a new campus sports complex will add to their university’s entire image, but residents fear the project could hurt their neighborhoods.

During a three-hour hearing Tuesday night, dozens of supporters and opponents of the proposed sports complex at the former St. Vincent’s Center property laid out their case in front of the city of Davenport’s Plan and Zoning Commission. The meeting was moved the the RiverCenter’s Great Hall to accommodate a crowd of about 400.

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 property at 800 W. Central Park Ave., three blocks north of the college.

The university and neighboring Assumption High School would share the football and softball fields and some of the practice facilities. Each school would likely host about five home football games per year.

St. Ambrose President Sister Joan Lescinski said high school student-athletes being recruited by the university consistently say they have better athletic facilities at their high schools, and she referenced Augustana College’s recently renovated Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex.

“It’s essential to the university’s future,” she said.

During the hearing, city staff and university officials presented the rezoning application for the sports complex, including light, noise, stormwater, parking, traffic and property value studies. Outside engineering firms compiled the studies, except the one on property values, which was done by university staff.

Opponents of the rezoning also compiled their own research and said they still had major concerns regarding the same issues.

Betzy McCleland, who lives across from where the university wants to build the stadium’s parking lot, said it is not a good fit for the neighborhood.

“There is too much at stake here, and as many speakers pointed out, there is no margin for error in a long list of issues,” she said.

Jim Welch, a spokesman for the neighbors in the St. Vincent neighborhood, said the university’s decision to rezone only 31½ acres of the 45-acre property appeared be done to keep the protest rate at less than 20 percent of the area within a 200-foot range of the project.

A protest rate of 20 percent is required to trigger a super-majority vote of eight votes for approval by the Davenport City Council.

“The PID (Planned Institutional District) application is a mockery of the intention of the PID ordinance, if not the letter of the law,” Welch said.

Davenport resident Tim Fox, who has a son studying at St. Ambrose and a daughter who attends Assumption High School, said he was not sure if he was going to speak in support for the proposed stadium before the hearing, but eventually he did.

“We’re talking five to seven weekends out of the whole year,” he said. “It’s not going to impact traffic.”

Four current St. Ambrose softball players attended the meeting, even though they will have all graduated by the time a proposed stadium would be built.

Junior Niki Green said St. Amrbose’s facilities cannot compete with other schools in the Midwest Collegiate Conference.

“We as a team have to go work on the field to prepare for a game,” Green said. “That shouldn’t have to happen.”

Supporters and opponents of the stadium also addressed the issue of tailgating.

Mike Poster, St. Ambrose vice president of finance, said alcohol will be permitted in the proposed stadium’s parking lot at least initially, but “we’re not going to let tailgating become a problem.”

When asked by Commissioner Susan Lammers, Poster said the university does not have a back-up plan if the application is denied.

As speakers in opposition to the stadium began to address the commission, dozens of the stadium’s supporters began to leave the Great Hall.

Jim Dexter, who lives at 1211 Garfield Court, Davenport, turned around during his speech and looked at the crowd and the many empty chairs and said, “Where did everybody go?”

“My neighbors are scared to death here,” said Dexter, whose son once pitched for the baseball team at St. Ambrose. “Because we’ve seen what happens as Ambrose creeps out. They need to do it right and not here.”

The commission is expected to vote on the application May 20.

(14) comments

metoo
metoo

This is finals week at St. Ambrose. Midnight Breakfast was also held last night starting at 10pm. Faculty and staff are volunteer servers for this event put on for the students to relieve some of the stress of finals. Many of those leaving were either students or faculty and staff helping with this event. I know many people were watching the time so they weren't late and could honor both commitments. SAU tries to nurture it's students' minds, bodies and spirits. Obviously, the mind is nurtured by their academic pursuits and we have the chapel and campus ministry folks to nurture their spirits. Unfortunately, nurturing their bodies takes a backseat due to old, outdated and inadequate facilities. All many of us at SAU want to do is send well-rounded, educated, compassionate young men and women out to become the best they can. We need to commission to vote yes to help give us the tools to do this.

acahie
acahie

Most of the people who left were probably students. Saint Ambrose has finals this week. A fair number of students wanted to do something show support, but they didn't have 3 hours to spend at a P & Z meeting because they're studying/packing.

Mommad1
Mommad1

I am so tired of SAU EXPLOITING their students. If this stadium gets built these students would have graduated and be gone!!! The neighbors will still be there!

iceandshadows
iceandshadows

Let me get this straight: students choosing to support civic improvements that will benefit future classes, knowing full well that they are personally unlikely to see the project completed during their time at SAU, is "EXPLOITATION"??

Sounds more like typical Ambrosian generosity of spirit to me. No students are being compelled to attend these meetings - they are giving freely of their time during finals week (!!!) because they believe in the project and the betterment of the community as a whole.

If your strange flavor of logic is typical of the opposition, it's no wonder that you're in such a tiny [if strident] minority.

Mommad1
Mommad1

The 'Neighbors' sat and listened to SAU speak, then when it comes time for the oposition to speak, they all get up and leave----SET UP!!! AND RUDE!!! Points were not repeated, in fact I thought with every report done it was just more information as to why this proposed stadium should not be built there. The neighbors actually had Official Studies of a lot of the points--or did anyone notice?? I am truly disappointed that the media chose to film and take pictures only from the SAU side of the room--little bias? (The majority of the people there to support SAU were students---and they all left early as soon as the oposition started to speak---why???)

NDFan 27
NDFan 27

Actually all of those pictures were taken from several locations throughout the room, it just appears that it was always the "SAU side" because the supports of this project FAR OUTNUMBER the opposition. And go ahead and take a look at those picture again. You will see, in fact, that the student population was certainly not a "majority" of the supporters. There is a big difference between young/recent alumni and students, but we wouldn't expect you to realize that since you have those blinders on just like all of the neighbors.

If you think points were not repeated then you were not listening. Complaining that no one noticed the "official studies" that were done by the neighbors huh? Man, sounds a little hipocritical to me! The neighbors haven't paid attention to a single report done by the independent contractors for lighting, sound, traffic, or waste water.

eddy
eddy

beman

A decision has not even been made and yet you cast your accusations implying that this board is corrupt?
Who is the unreasonable one again?
This University has bent over backwards to accommodate the neighbors at every turn. Mr Poster practically said you will each get a key to this building with 100% access and yet you cry over things that NO ONE has control over.
I cannot assure you that no one will ever leave a beer can in your yard when this is built (you cannot say that now)
I cannot assure you that no one will have a party in your neighborhood (you cannot say that now)
I cannot assure you that your basements will not flood on occasion (you cannot say that now)
I cannot assure you that West Central Park will not have traffic on Saturday afternoons and Friday nights (it is a major thoroughfare today and you do not picket the city)

You neighbors will not be happy with ANY development in this area and have shown it is your way or nothing. Life is short! Preventing growth and the advancement of someone besides yourself is simply bitterness on your part.

Mommad1
Mommad1

Eddy who said anything about the board being corrupt????? Don't be starting evil rumors like that---simply not true!! I wouldn't blame the neighbors if they wanted Mike Poster to sign a contract listing all the promises he's made, before they ever believe another word out of his mouth!

eddy
eddy

Umm.
Cant you read two comments down from yours?

Pretty sure the suggestion is clear.
"Looks like home owners got sold out again. what a corrupt city."

Perhaps if you and your 26 neighbors would actually read and comprehend what has been public knowledge we would not have to rehash everything for you at every meeting. Beman calling the city corrupt and now you are calling Mr Poster a liar.
Class act you guys are!

Mod
Mod

Every argument that the neighbors had was answered by SAU, one of the main ones being water runoff. It was explained by the engineer that the system that would be put in and PAID for by SAU would actually improve the water runoff in the area, much like they did for their parking lot on Locust Street.

As stated before , the reason people were leaving was because the neighbors kept bringing up the same points that were already answered by the studies done. It was as if they did not listen to anything that was said prior to their remarks.

This is a "no brainer", and out of the 400 people there last night, 375 of them supported the project. Its clear that the vast majority of Davenport wants this project to proceed.

beman101
beman101

Looks like home owners got sold out again. what a corrupt city.

HA HA
HA HA

After these facilities are built, I bet that SAU and Assumption will see at least a 20% jump in enrollment. Hands down Bettendorf and Assumption will have access to the BEST facilities in the QCA. As an ex-player and now coach, I am very envious of what is happening at these locations. This is how high school and collegiate programs should be ran... preparing these kids for the highest level of competition. Davenport and its continuants should embrace these changes because it is really going to be awesome!! I can’t wait to see it!

NDFan 27
NDFan 27

The reason so many people were leaving is because the "neighbors" kept repeating points, which was blatantly against the rules as outlined by the P&Z Commission. If they did not keep falling back on the same points (which have already been addressed by the University time and time again), and actually brought up some legitimate concerns, I am sure more people would have stayed. However, since they cannot come up with any REAL concerns that have not already been addressed, it gets rather tiresome listened to them talk just so that they can hear their own voice.

billy hoyle
billy hoyle

"where did everyone go?"
maybe down to st vincent's to see where all the stuff will get built. neighborhood put up a good fight, and won some concessions from SAU, but the thing is going to get built.

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