What are the only two professional ballparks older than Modern Woodmen Park?
During the height of the Great Depression, numerous federal construction projects were initiated to provide jobs for unemployed residents of the area. The Municipal Stadium that you see here was one such project. It was built for a cost of $165,000. Construction began in November of 1930 during the baseball off-season and completed six months later in May 1931.
The state-of-the-art riverfront stadium, with a roofed grandstand and seating for 5,500, opened as home of the Blue Sox minor league professional baseball team. Over the years, the ballpark has been home to minor league teams carrying names including these: Quads, DavSox, Pirates, Tigers, Braves, Angels, Cubs, the Swing of the Quad Cities, and today the Quad City River Bandits.
In earlier years, the stadium played host to high school football games as well as baseball. Assumption High School and Saint Ambrose College played home football games here until 1987, when both schools began playing at Brady Street Stadium. It was also the site of the "Rumble on the Riverbank" boxing match in 1991 when local boxer Michael Nunn lost the IBF middleweight title to James Toney. In addition, the stadium has been host to numerous concerts and other events over the years.
In 1971, the stadium was renamed John O’Donnell Stadium, in honor of long-time Davenport civic leader and Davenport Democrat Sports Editor John O’Donnell. Renovations done before the 2004 season include a 9-foot-high berm that provides lawn seating area for fans and acts as a floodwall around the entire stadium. Until that time, the stadium had no flood protection from Mississippi River flooding, which forced the team to play home games at other parks whenever the river flooded. During the Great Flood of 1993, photos of water creeping across the playing field at the ballpark made national publications and became a symbol of the flood.
In December 2007, the naming rights to the 77-year-old stadium were purchased by Modern Woodmen of America whose headquarters sit just across the Mississippi River, next to the Centennial Bridge. Today, Modern Woodmen Park is home to the Quad-City River Bandits, a single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. This is one of the oldest minor league ballparks still in use today. The only older major league ballparks still in use are Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago.
One way to continue your tour is by crossing the Centennial Bridge walking up Gaines Street to the pedestrian walk. When you are near the center of the bridge, call the RiverWay Audio Tour number at 563-209-9071 and listen to recording #67. The tour then continues at the Centennial Visitor Center and along the Rock Island bike trail.
Another way to continue the tour is to head east along the Davenport bike trail and cross the Government Bridge to Arsenal Island. There are a total of six stops in Davenport and on Arsenal Island.