|Some may classify this as a renovation, but to me this is a brand new park.
While the exterior facade may have been preserved (thankfully), the
complete seating bowl was rebuilt, which to me constitutes a new park.
What was once a somewhat unique park is now an ordinary one that looks like
dozens of others across the country. Still, ever since Modern Woodmen Park opened in 2004 (it is the rebuilt version of venerable John O’Donnell Stadium), it has received rave reviews from the media and fans alike as being one of the best minor league ballparks in the country. I finally got a chance to visit it in 2016, and frankly I don’t get the hype. Maybe if you like the ballpark to be half amusement park, you will love this place. But for me, the number of rides and distractions for kids does not make a ballpark better. Sure, the views of the MIssissippi River are pretty cool, but this alone does not make up for a rather lackluster ballpark.
- The views of the MIssissippi River and the nearby Centennial Bridge are outstanding. Especially at night, with the bridge lit up, the backdrop is very scenic. The old ballpark did not have views that were as scenic, so this is a great improvement in the rebuilt ballpark.
- The brick exterior was maintained from the old ballpark. While nothing else was maintained from the old ballpark, it is nice to see that some remnant was retained.
- The variety of seating options is extensive. Especially cool are the bar style seats at field level down the left field line, which also feature some corn stalks directly behind them. There is also a decent sized berm behind the left field fence. In right field, there is a two tiered patio section that provides beautiful views of the river.
- The 360 degree concourse offers great river views in the outfield.
- Parking is plentiful in lots which surround the park. It is a reasonable $2 to leave your car.
- The concourses are very narrow for such a new ballpark. Fortunately, there is a full wraparound concourse where fans can roam, but it is still surprising to see the concourses behind home plate be so tight.
- Despite being only 12 years old, the ballpark is already showing its age. There are numerous rusty seats and most of the cup holders are faded or broken. Yet the team has enough money to add some more amusement rides!
- Speaking of those amusement rides, there are simply too many of them. Besides the huge ferris wheel in left field (which is clearly just there for bragging rights), there are another five rides in a carnival area along the first base side. Of course all these rides cost extra. I can understand having a carousel or maybe one ride, but the number of rides here is just excessive.
- One of my biggest pet peeves is when concession stands are shuttered. For a ballpark that everyone raves about, I was surprised to see so many concession stands and portable carts that were not even open the night I attended a game. Yes, it was a Monday night with a rather light crowd, but still I expect any specialty stands to be open. The fact that the PA announcer was promoting stands that weren’t open is embarrassing.
- Prices are too high, especially on concessions. For a Low-A ballpark in Iowa, there is no reason that prices should be as high as some found at Major League ballparks.
- A large dead space is located in the left field corner. I’m not sure what the purpose of this is as the night I was there is just seemed to be a haven for smokers.
After hearing so many glowing reviews of Modern Woodmen Park, I was expecting a much better experience. While having some distractions for kids is fine, they really seemed to have gone overboard here. Frankly, I’m not sure if they are selling the rides or baseball. It is unfortunate that the team has favored more amusements in favor of basic ballpark maintenance. The setting is wonderful, but simply can’t make up for all the other negatives.
- There appears to be a great variety of concessions … when all the stands are actually opened. I attended on a Monday night in June only to find the gourmet burger stand, the specialty hot dog stand, a cart offering wraps, and Nachoville all shuttered. In addition, one of the large permanent stands was also not open. Quite a turn off for a fan looking for something other than the standard ballpark fare.
- A nod is given to each of the cities which make up the “Quad Cities” by having their name on a concession stand. These are The Bettendorf Bakery, The Davenport Diner, The Rock Island Grille, and the Moline Market.
- The Davenport Diner and Moline Market stands offer up the standard ballpark fare including hot dogs, fries, chicken fingers, and bratwursts.
- The Bettendorff Bakery stand offers soft serve ice cream ($4), sundaes ($6.50), and root beer floats.
- Prices definitely seem to be on the high side, though they do offer some combos (soda and fries for an $3.50) that are a decent value. Jumbo hot dogs are $4.50, Kids hot dogs are $3.50, a pulled pork sandwich is $7.50, cheeseburgers are $7, and a regular soda runs $4. Certainly not a place you can eat cheaply.