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Dave Heller

Dave Heller

When I was a kid, my Dad would often say, "Hindsight’s always 20-20." He was always reminding his kids to keep our eyes and our focus forward, not backward. Don’t replay the past; live in the moment.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently, never more so than when I read Don Doxsie’s article ("Floods are Big Part of Ballpark’s Legacy,” May 4th edition of the Quad-City Times.)

Doxsie seems to second guess the decision 88 years ago to build a stadium along the banks of the Mississippi. "You kind of wonder if they realized the place would fill up like a bathtub every couple of years, forcing the home team to seek refuge in temporary quarters," he wrote.

Well, I guess there are plenty of decisions from 1931 we could second guess: Why didn’t President Hoover embrace public works spending on a larger scale? Why didn’t he permit the government to provide direct assistance to people in need? Why did it take so long to arrest Al Capone?

But building Davenport’s Municipal Stadium on the banks of the Mississippi, to me as the owner of the team that proudly calls the Quad Cities home, was not one of them.

Nor should we regret the 2003 decision to renovate the ballpark. Doxsie implies Davenport would have been better off building a new park, presumably far away from any potential flooding.

He writes, "That problem [flooding] was remedied somewhat in recent years…. The River Bandits were able to play games during subsequent floods with the use of makeshift bridges and walkways to allow spectators to access what occasionally becomes an island in the biggest stream in the country. But even that solution has been eliminated during the current, record-breaking flood, which has consumed everything within about a two-block radius of the stadium.”

Sure, the City of Davenport could have built a new ballpark somewhere else — and paid extra to tear down our ballpark. But a new ballpark back in 2003 would have cost around $25 million; renovating the existing ballpark cost half that. Where would the extra $12.5 million come from? Davenport taxpayers? I hope not. Former owner Kevin Krause? Good luck with that.

The truth is, I’m glad — really glad — Davenport renovated the existing park. I love the views from our ballpark; they are the best in all of baseball. I love that our ballpark, every summer the most frequented building in all of Scott County, is a magnet that attracts people from all across our great region to downtown Davenport. And I love that in the middle of summer our guests still enjoy cool breezes coming off the river.

I don’t like flooding any more than anyone else. And I’ve lost plenty of money because of it. But the day I would trade our picturesque riverfront ballpark for some cookie-cutter new park built out in some flood-immune field is The Day After Never.

Rather than look back in regret at the flooding, the better approach is to learn from it, prepare better for the future and try to mitigate the damage. Which is exactly what the City of Davenport and the River Bandits are doing.

The railroads raise the tracks and block the entrance to the ballpark? OK, then raise the road and build a handicapped-accessible sidewalk alongside so people can enter and exit the park even when the water’s reached 21 feet. Which is what’s being done. The batting cages flood? Then build a flood wall to protect that area for the future. Which we are currently working on. In short, when the next flood comes, we will be even better prepared.

Don Doxsie’s a wonderful guy, and I usually enjoy his columns immensely. But he’s wrong on this one. Modern Woodmen Park is exactly where it — and the River Bandits — belong. We’re not looking back; we’re looking forward. In fact, we are already working on helping create a Flood Relief Fund to assist others who’ve been really hurt by the recent floods.

The Bandits will be back at Modern Woodmen on Friday night, May 24th. We’re going to flood the park with people — the best people anywhere in this great nation. And flooding or no flooding, we’re not going anywhere.

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Dave Heller is the owner of the Quad-Cities River Bandits.

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