The thought of an athletic complex that includes a 2,500-seat stadium filling the quiet St. Vincent’s Center property in the 700 block of West Central Park Avenue in Davenport has some neighbors riled.
St. Ambrose University's plan elevated tension at several neighborhood meetings where residents have reviewed alternatives. Some fear being overrun by sports fans, a natural concern for people unaccustomed to game day.
On home football nights at Bettendorf High School, as many as 4,000 fans pack TouVelle Field to cheer on the Bulldogs. Playoff games can draw up to 5,000, bringing traffic, noise and additional lighting to residential neighborhoods along 18th Street and Maplecrest Avenue.
Kevin Skillett, activities director at Bettendorf High School, said the school’s relationship with the neighbors is good. When installing a new public address system last year, the school kept in mind its neighbors and the direction of the speakers. The school hires police officers at its expense for crowd and traffic flowing from two parking lots for its five or six home games per year.
“No doubt they can hear when Bettendorf scores a touchdown,” he said.
St. Ambrose officials already scaled back the project in response to neighbors’ concerns and pledge to work with the community throughout construction and once an athletic complex opens. St. Ambrose is located in a designed Planned Institutional District, which requires specific steps that must be followed before plans are approved.
Still, some residents are saying build it elsewhere.
That seems to assume the Ambrose lot will remain vacant forever. We doubt that will happen. Some Moline residents believed the long-vacant lots west of 41st Street and south of 25th Avenue might remain open, until Genesis Health System built a $14 million campus last year.
The St. Ambrose site could just as easily be used for a higher-density residential development, or even apartments under the correct zoning.
We expect the city to hold the university to the Planned Institutional District process and give residents a voice in the university’s expansion. Three public meetings are scheduled over the next several weeks. The next public decision will be before the Davenport Plan and Zoning Commission, tentatively planned for April.
We’re eager to see the city, neighborhood residents and St. Ambrose move ahead on the vetting process. St. Ambrose has been a good neighbor for decades, and most recently during extensive renovation and expansion. The school responded admirably to curb rowdy, rude students in off-campus housing. It reached out with community service , including student leaf crews in the fall. Whatever stadium option emerges, it’s safe to conclude St. Ambrose will continue its long tradition of respect for and collaboration with neighbors.
Two things seem certain: The university will continue to grow. And the property assembled for this project won’t remain vacant forever.
We urge neighbors to work with the university to help this stadium project fit in the neighborhood, just like so many larger Q-C high school football stadiums have managed for years.