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River Bandits keep flood waters out, put corn in
Waters from the Mississippi River cover part of a parking lot at Modern Woodmen Park on Tuesday. (Jeff Cook/Quad-City Times)

As Mississippi River floodwaters inch toward a crest outside of high-and-dry Modern Woodmen Park, planting season has arrived.

Kirk Goodman probably didn’t realize it at the time he took the job, but experience in hydrology and agronomy are among the job skills it takes to be the general manager of the Quad-Cities River Bandits.

“Every job has its nuances that keep things interesting,’’ said Goodman, who joined the Midwest League club this season after three years as the general manager of the Jacksonville Suns in the Southern League.

“In Florida, I had to keep an eye on the hurricane forecasts. Here, the challenges are a little different, but we’re getting along fine.”

The River Bandits recovered from an early-morning thunderstorm on Tuesday in time to open a nine-game homestand by welcoming 4,645 fans to a midday game.

Outside the stadium, the Mississippi River was nearing its projected crest some 1½ feet above its 15-foot flood stage in the Quad-Cities.

Water has filled a portion of Gaines Street in front of the stadium and forced the closure of an adjacent parking lot, but with portable flood gates in place, the field has remained dry. A dry path from the hard-surfaced lot to the north of the stadium continues to provide fans with easy access to the ballpark entry way.

Goodman said city officials first contacted him in early March about the possibility of the $1.7-million dollar flood protection system at renovated stadium getting its first true test as snowmelt from Minnesota and Wisconsin made its way through the Quad-Cities this month.

“Everything has worked the way it was supposed to, and for all of us, that’s good news. It will be baseball as usual for the next week,” Goodman said.

“The City of Davenport has done a great job of keeping us updated on what we could expect. The flood wall has done its job and the pumps have worked the way they are supposed to work, which has kept the outfield dry and playable.’’

The St. Ambrose baseball team helped the River Bandits prepare the field after Tuesday’s rain and the home-plate area and mound actually had to be watered before the start of Tuesday’s game.

Today, Goodman expects corn to be planted in a previously-unused area behind the River Bandits bullpen in left field.

“Corn as high as an elephant’s eye, that’s what we’re counting on,” Goodman said, borrowing a line from the Broadway musical “Oklahoma!’’

Top soil will be added and field corn will be planted in an area previously covered by gravel, providing a Midwestern touch that new River Bandits owner Dave Heller expects to be among the attractions at the facility where new signs were installed Tuesday and a fresh coat of red paint has brightened the concourse in the days since the team left on a road trip last week.

The River Bandits are working with Crop Production Services on the small plot of corn and team groundskeeper Ben Kratz will have the task of overseeing the crop.

“We’ve already got a rabbit or two living in that area, so we’re interested in seeing what else we attract,’’ Goodman said. “By late July, August, we think it’s going to look pretty cool.”

Steve Batterson can be contacted at (563) 383-2290 or sbatterson@qctimes.com. Comment on this story at qctimes.com.

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