I would like to endorse the planned athletic complex on Central Park Avenue that will serve both Assumption High School and St. Ambrose University.

Neither school has ever had a stadium for football or track. Both programs have been orphans for many years. They both used to play football at Modern Woodmen Park downtown until the professional baseball teams removed football to keep the field in better condition for baseball. They then played at Brady St. Stadium, but, in recent years, the concession revenue was taken away from AHS and SAU and the rent was raised. Then AHS was given the undesirable Thursday night slots for home games and SAU was forced to move games to Pleasant Valley due to schedule conflicts. When the new turf was placed, the logos for Central, West, and North High Schools were permanently inscribed, and Assumption and St. Ambrose were not included.

These schools need a place to call their own. Having had children graduate from Assumption and St. Ambrose and having served on the SAU Board of Trustees, I’m well aware of the issues involved and planning to date. Trying to have a track and field program at a college without a track isn’t easy, as you can imagine. Being the parent of an Assumption track and football athlete, with track practices held at other schools that require a drive and a wait until those schools are done with their practices, and Thursday night football games with tests on Friday morning, it just doesn’t work.

The protests raised by a vocal minority about the negative impact of a stadium on the neighborhood just don’t hold up to scrutiny. I grew up at 32nd and Brady Streets and the PA system at the stadium livened many a night. Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley, North Scott, Clinton, Burlington, Rock Island, and even Brady Street stadiums, to name but a few, all have residential neighborhoods closer to them than would be the case with the current proposal.

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My office at University of Iowa Hospital overlooks Kinnick Stadium, where 70,000 people converge on Saturday afternoons in the fall. Some of the most prized real estate in the area, University Heights, is immediately west of the stadium. Residents don’t protest having the stadium there; they embrace it.

There will always be negative voices about any proposal. If we always allowed the negatives to rule, we’d get nowhere. Both schools have a track record of high-quality development with attractive walkways and landscaping, appropriate lighting, and respect for the surrounding neighborhoods in central Davenport.

Let’s take this opportunity to build practice fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, a softball diamond, a track, and football facilities we can all be proud of that will serve both schools and the neighborhood well into the future.

Dr. Michael C. Giudici is a University of Iowa Hospitals physician. He is an Assumption High School class of 1971 graduate who lived and practiced for years in Davenport.

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