It’s no longer a local secret.
The “Best Minor League Ballpark’’ in the nation sits on the banks of the Mississippi River in the heart of the Quad-Cities.
Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park was recognized Wednesday as the winner of a poll by 10Best.com and USA Today designed to determine the Best Minor League Ballpark. The home of the Quad-Cities River Bandits was selected as the best of the best among the 160 facilities from coast to coast where minor-league baseball games are played.
The Midwest League facility attracted more than 40,000 votes in a month-long balloting, edging Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Ky., by 2,000 votes to finish on top of a group of 20 finalists.
“The people of Davenport should be very proud, but it’s a great day for all of the Quad-Cities,’’ Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said at a news conference Wednesday just hours after the results were announced. “We own the ballpark, but we share it with everyone in the entire community.’’
River Bandits and community officials enthusiastically greeted the announcement, thanking fans from across the country who voted for the facility in the poll.
“We’ve known forever that we have something very special here in the Quad-Cities; this validates that,’’ said Joe Taylor, president and CEO of the Quad-Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s one thing to say that we have a great ballpark. It’s another to say that we have the best ballpark.’’
Taylor said his organization will use the recognition as it markets the Quad-Cities area as a destination for visitors.
“It’s more than the bricks and mortar, though. It’s the hospitality that guests receive when they come to an event at Modern Woodmen Park that helps make it special,’’ Taylor said. “The River Bandits do a good job of entertaining people, creating an experience that is memorable, and that is all a part of it.’’
Gluba said the national recognition serves as an indicator that Davenport’s Rivervision plan is accomplishing its objective of making the Davenport riverfront one of “the most spectacular and magnificent between New Orleans and Minneapolis.’’
The original stadium structure on the Davenport riverfront first housed a minor-league baseball team in 1931, and after being known for 36 years as John O’Donnell Stadium, the facility was renamed as Modern Woodmen Park in 2007 following a multimillion-dollar renovation three years earlier.
Recent upgrades provide fans not only with an opportunity to watch players chase their big-league dreams from the grandstand, but also give them a chance to enjoy games from an outfield berm and group party areas.
Beyond providing views of action on the field, the Mississippi River and the adjacent Centennial Bridge, the elevated areas surrounding the stadium’s outfield wall serve as flood protection for the facility.
“There are a lot of wonderful parks across the country, but this place is unique, and it is truly an honor to be recognized on a national basis,’’ said Stefanie Brown, executive director of Modern Woodmen Park. “We appreciate the people who took the time to vote. This facility belongs to the community and the fans, and we try never to forget that.’’
Quad-Cities is in its first year as an affiliate of the Houston Astros. Two other facilities where the organization’s minor-league teams play, Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the AA Texas League and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City in the AAA Pacific Coast League, finished sixth and ninth in the balloting.