Mississippi River floodwaters approaching a crest nearly seven feet above flood stage may be lapping at portable flood panels and an earthen berm which protect Modern Woodmen Park, but Independence Day will be celebrated in traditional fashion in the Quad-Cities.
There will be Midwest League baseball, hot dogs and even postgame fireworks as scheduled when the River Bandits open a three-game weekend series against Wisconsin with a 7 p.m. game today.
Despite the flooding, walk-up ticket sales were brisk, concessions supplies were being delivered as scheduled and the outfield grass was being mowed Thursday afternoon as River Bandits staff members prepared for the start of a six-game, seven-day home stand.
“It’s a little different for a lot of us in the front office, but people here seem to be taking everything in stride. We’re surrounded by water, but it’s business as usual,’’ River Bandits general manager Andrew Chesser said. “The crews from the City of Davenport have done a great job of setting up a dry and safe way for fans to get here and enjoy games this weekend.’’
Stadium gates in the dry entry plaza will open at 5:30 p.m. and fans will enter the facility over an elevated sidewalk and a temporary metal bridge that begins at the intersection of River Drive and Gaines Street. The entire structure, including a ramp in the entry plaza, provides wheelchair access to the stadium.
Once inside the ballpark, Chesser said fans can expect a normal game-day experience.
That includes a postgame fireworks display tonight that will be 40 percent larger than initially scheduled. Fireworks will be shot off from dry land behind the batter’s eye in center field.
Additionally at all three weekend games, the River Bandits will offer half-price rides on the stadium’s new Ferris wheel as well as $2 beverage specials and $1 peanuts and popcorn.
“The Ferris wheel probably provides one of the best views of the river in the Quad-Cities on any day, but it will certainly provide a unique view of the flooding,’’ Chesser said.
With the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival also taking place in downtown Davenport through Saturday, parking in the area of the stadium will be at a premium.
River Bandits fans can find parking at the Community Healthcare lot, the German American Heritage Center lot, lots adjacent to the Scott County Courthouse and at city lots at Fifth and Main and Fifth and Brady.
The River Bandits will provide golf cart shuttle service to fans needing assistance to and from area parking lots.
Downtown parking ramps will also be open, with a $5 special event parking price there throughout the Blues Fest.