Saturday, July 13, 2013

Modern Woodman Park - Davenport, Iowa

Posted by William Lee Coleman III | Saturday, July 13, 2013 | Category: |

Modern Woodman Park is located in Davenport, Iowa and is the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. The River Bandits are entering their first year as the Low A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and its another one of those stadiums in the Midwest where Minor League Baseball has been played for a while. I became interested in this stadium after watching the movie "Sugar" which was filmed in 2007 at Modern Woodmen Park. I was worried that I wouldn't get to actually watch a game played here due to the mighty Mississippi River flooding this ballpark as it often does in late April (or so I've been warned by other baseball chasers).  I called a couple of days early and was told that they had a makeshift bridge for access in and out of the ballpark along with a flood wall that keeps the majority of the water out of the ballpark. Some amenities of the ballpark wouldn't be operating for safety concerns; but for the most part they told me to still come to the park.

Stadium: 5

I will be honest, before my visit I didn't have any knowledge of why this area was called the Quad Cities. I just knew it had a ballpark that I wanted to visit with a bridge in the background.  I left with the understanding that the two coolest elements of the ballpark aren't really even part of the stadium. That bridge that I mentioned is the Centennial Bridge connecting Iowa and Illinois and cannot be ignored. It follows you around the stadium and makes for some very interesting photos.

The second element is the Mississippi River. When they mentioned flooding during my phone call, I am picturing a stadium at least two football fields distance away from the river. Not a mere two feet from the outfield concourse with all kind of boats passing by.

 Modern Woodmen Park has experienced many changes since its construction date in 1931; most of the changes happened in 2003. I had a lot of locals try to tell me what is original and what is modern to the point that I got confused.

 Some seemed to like the renovations and some seemed indifferent to them yet they all claim its one of the oldest ballparks still in use. To me they did a great job of  keeping the classic red brick exterior coliseum look on the outside with all the modern amenities inside. One other thing I liked about this stadium was how small it felt without everything been crammed together.

 Modern Woodman Park is basic with its seating bowl behind the grandstand with blue fold down seats and a 360 degree walk around concourse. The luxury boxes are elevated around the grandstand.  This stadium has a good amenities set up and the netting offers no poor sightlines.

 Everything is within walking distance- so no long treks to the bathroom! I despise picnic table seating but these tables inside this stadium are close enough along the first baseline which makes them useful. The berm actually faces the infield, also making it a worthwhile place to watch a couple of innings.

There can't be that many stadiums with a berm area this close to the outfield and this ballpark featured very little foul room making just about every seat in the stadium close to the field. The only thing I would change is the bleachers down the left field line which look out of place with the rest of the interior.

One small recommendation- bring some Off  if you're planning on going to a game. My visit was in late April and several of us were attacked by mosquitoes because of the stadium's proximity to the Mississippi River.

 It got so bad I had to spend some time in the gift shop. I can't imagine what those annoying mosquitoes are like in the middle of summer.

Pricing: 4

Parking was free and I had decided early on in my trip that free parking meant I would splurge on sitting behind home plate so I purchased a lower box seat for $11.00.

 I usually don't mention food in my blog but this ballpark featured one of the best items my mouth has tasted inside a ballpark not cooked by Dreamland. It was a grilled chicken kabob with a Jamaican Jerk seasoning cooked along the concourse .

I would have gotten another if it wasn't so expensive at $8.00.  I washed it down with a souvenir cup drink of Diet Coke for $5.00.

Baseball Atmosphere: 4

By this time, I was running into people I had already met at other stadiums and that led to some interesting baseball conversations ranging from autographs to Spring Training. For the most part it seemed like the crowd was there to watch a baseball game and were huge Cardinals fans; not happy that they were watching the future of the Houston Astros.

Autographing: 3

It took awhile to break down the locals that I wasn't the enemy and that I could be an asset in identifying the visiting team players. You really do not have a lot of room near either dugout due to the tight space and netting. I was told not to waste my team pre-game on the River Bandits side with Carlos Correa and with that advice I explored the stadium. After the game, autographing was interesting. With the flood walls set up, both teams have to leave the stadium the same way yet can use any number of doors to exit the stadium. The visiting team bus parked right along the flood wall about five yards from the railroad tracks. I had local graphers tell me that the night before that someone had misidentified Vince Coleman as Razor Shines and he wasn't happy. How you get those two confused is beyond me.

I quickly learned that oncoming trains mean that the River Bandit players are going to run and try to beat it from blocking them from leaving the parking area.  I even had some players blocked by a train that couldn't go anywhere after I had missed them getting other players.

Overall this stadium was the highlight of my trip and I didn't realize how much I enjoyed it until I started sorting the pictures on the blog. I wished I would have taken more pictures than I did.  Everything about the stadium was a little bit different from the norm. This ballpark did not disappoint and exceeded my expectations.


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