Roby Smith has always enjoyed the way the Quad-Cities River Bandits connect with the community.
He enjoyed it so much that on Thursday the Iowa state senator from Davenport joined managing partner Dave Heller as an owner of the Midwest League team, introduced at a news conference as the newest member of the team’s ownership group.
“I’ve known Dave for a couple of years and we’ve developed a good friendship,’’ Smith said. “Our family has enjoyed coming down the ballpark to games and we like the way this organization involves itself in the community. When the opportunity to become involved came up, it was a no-brainer. It’s baseball. It’s America’s pastime.’’
Smith replaces Bob Herrfeldt in the ownership group of the Midwest League franchise which begins its 58th season of competition on April 6, filling an opening created when Herrfeldt opted to leave the organization to pursue other opportunities in baseball closer to his Colorado home.
It is the first change in the ownership structure for the organization since Heller finalized the purchase of the team then known as the Swing of the Quad-Cities from Kevin Krause near the end of the 2007 season. The portion of the team which Heller sold Thursday was not disclosed.
Heller expects Smith to take an active role with the team, saying, “Roby won’t be a silent partner.’’
Smith, a Republican who has served Iowa Senate District 47 since 2010, views his roots in the community to be an asset.
“I feel like I can bring new ideas and a knowledge of the community to the team,’’ Smith said. “I’ve knocked on 30,000 doors over the years so I am out there talking with folks and I’m excited to bring what I know to the organization.’’
Smith and his wife, Kari, are the parents of four children and he owns a small business in addition to his legislative commitments, which includes working as the chair of the Senate’s State Government committee and serving on Transportation and Ways and Means committees.
With the Iowa Legislature typically in session from January through mid-spring, Smith said his schedule fits well with the River Bandits’ schedule.
“I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time at the ballpark,’’ Smith said.
It was his time at Modern Woodmen Park which sparked his initial interest in the River Bandits.
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“My wife and I brought the kids to the first Mega Candy Drop and watching all of the kids on the field and then seeing them showered with marshmallows is a special memory,’’ Smith said. “From that experience to catching a foul ball in the stands with my sons to throwing out a first pitch, this is such a family-oriented operation.’’
Smith pointed to the club’s charitable endeavors as well, calling them important connections to the community.
“This team is about the Quad-Cities, cares about the community, and I’m anxious to be a part of the organization,’’ Smith said.
Heller feels Smith is a good fit with the River Bandits organization.
“Roby is committed to the community and that’s what we are all about,’’ Heller said. “He shares our values and I feel like he will be a great addition to our team.’’