Saturday 4th July 2009 By: Jennifer Parsons
During the summer of 2008 the Waterloo Bucks and historic Riverfront Stadium were acutely affected by flooding. Floodwaters damaged or destroyed many points of Riverfront including offices, concessions stands, restrooms, locker rooms, souvenir stand, ticket windows, storage areas, and party deck, and totally covered the playing field. In fact, the water level was about eight feet above the ground at every concessions stand window.
The flooding removed the Bucks from playing at their home field during the bulk of June and early part of July (16 home games in 33 days). To say the least, the 2008 season was won by Mother Nature.
The City of Waterloo has been working diligently to get Riverfront back to where it was pre-flood and continue to make improvements on the ballpark. Check back each Thursday for continuing progress reports from officials from the City of Waterloo and the Bucks.
The Black Hawk County Gaming Association board pledged 590,000 dollars toward improvements at Riverfront Stadium over the next year.
The board voted unanimously with one abstention Monday, November 17 to contribute to a locker room improvement plan with four payments through next year.
Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley called the city-owned stadium a "tarnished gem" after June flooding this year damaged the locker room facilities.
Hurley and Paul Huting, Waterloo Leisure Services Director, said the project would be a "building within a building" and assured the board that their investment won’t be washed away in another flood.
Wiring will be installed through the ceiling and other designs will prevent total loss from flooding, he added.
"It will be flexible and it will be something we won’t have to tear out," Huting said.
The money will be disbursed over four fiscal quarters. The board distributes 5.75 percent of the Isle Casino and Hotel at Waterloo adjusted gross receipts to capital projects, nonprofit organizations and charities.
The board approved 100,000 dollars to the stadium project this quarter, 100,000 dollars in the third fiscal quarter, 200,000 dollars for the final quarter of fiscal year 2009 and 90,000 dollars for the first fiscal quarter of 2010.
Work on the project will begin in January and be completed at the end of next year, Huting said.
"We will in all likelihood start the season without a locker room which isn’t all that terrible because teams refuse to go in them right now," Hurley said.
Board members discussed funding a city-owned facility, but noted that the University of Northern Iowa baseball team uses the ballpark and the Northwoods League Waterloo Bucks draw people from the region.
"It’s an asset to the entire Cedar Valley," Hurley said.
The 590,000 dollars pledge is in addition to 190,000 dollars the BHCGA gave toward field improvements at the ballpark. Flooding changed the city’s priorities, Hurley said.