The Bandits are now an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals.

BREAKING NEWS: While Major League Baseball is scheduled to start spring training Feb. 28 and Opening Day is April 1, the Quad Cities River Bandits will return to play a 120-game schedule, with their season opener on the road Tuesday, May 4, 2021, against the South Bend Cubs.

The River Bandits home opener will be on Tuesday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. against the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park. Single game tickets will go on sale Monday, April 19.

Anyone who purchased tickets or vouchers for games in 2020 can exchange those tickets at the River Bandits’ box office for any game in 2021 (subject to availability) for a ticket of equal or lesser value once tickets go on sale.

Dave Heller is owner of the River Bandits and president/CEO of Main Street Baseball.

“We’re so excited to announce our 2021 schedule and bring professional affiliated baseball back to the Quad-Cities,” Bandits owner Dave Heller said Thursday.

“Now that we’ve moved up a level, this will be the highest quality baseball ever played in the Quad-Cities and we’ll be doing it as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, who are widely recognized as having one of the top farm systems in all of baseball,” he said.

“It will have been 20 months since our last game and it’s way past time for River Bandits baseball,” Heller said, noting the 2020 season was canceled due to Covid. “I can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Modern Woodmen Park for the first pitch.”

The 2021 season marks the River Bandits’ first year as a new Advanced-A major league affiliate. As such, the team will be offering higher quality baseball than has ever before been played in the Q-C, according to a team release. Additionally, the Bandits welcome a new MLB affiliate to the Q-C, the Kansas City Royals.

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The River Bandits anchor the local sports market, which The Sports Business Journal named the top minor league sports market in the

Having a ball on the grass at Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park.

country in 2015 and second-best minor league market in its 2017 follow-up ranking.

Heller is the president and CEO of Main Street Baseball, LLC, and the majority owner and managing partner of four minor league baseball teams: the River Bandits, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Mid-Atlantic League, Advanced-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals), the Billings Mustangs (Pioneer League) and the Lowell Spinners (Atlantic League).

In December 2016, Main Street Baseball was awarded Ballpark Digest’s coveted “Minor League Baseball Organization of the Year” honor –one of the industry’s highest honors. Heller’s teams are known primarily for three things: fun, innovative promotions; making significant ballpark improvements benefiting both fans and players; and giving back generously to each club’s home community.

Last April, the River Bandits and 11 other Midwest League announced they were moving up one level of play, as the team and the league have

The Bandits will open their 2021 home season on May 11 against the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

been promoted from Single-A to Advanced-A baseball. That puts Q-C players just below Double-A and one step closer to the major leagues.

The River Bandits also announced then they were invited to become the Advanced-A affiliate of MLB’s Royals.

“Moving up to Advanced-A and securing a long-term affiliation with the Kansas City Royals will be the best thing to happen to baseball in the Quad Cities since the renovation of Modern Woodmen Park,” River Bandits owner Dave Heller said in April 2020. “Having Advanced-A baseball in the Quad-Cities means the players who come through our ballpark are markedly more likely to reach the major leagues.

“It’s a higher level of play, with better pitchers and better hitters and more experienced players.

The River Bandits helped promote mask wearing over the past year.

And there is no better organization in baseball than the Kansas City Royals, no one with whom we would rather affiliate. Dayton Moore, J.J. Picollo, Scott Sharp – they are the best,” he said. “They do things the right way, treat people the right way. And they have a proven record building a World Series Champion.

“All of us in the Quad-Cities who love baseball are extremely grateful to Senators Grassley and Ernst for all of their hard work,” Heller said of Iowa’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

Modern Woodmen Park, originally built in 1931, is at 209 S. Gaines St., Davenport.

“We can’t wait to welcome everyone in the Royals organization to the Quad-Cities.”

The home opponents for the River Bandits in 2021 (in order by date at Modern Woodmen Park):

  • Cedar Rapids Kernels (6 games; May 11-16)
  • Beloit Snappers (6 games; June 1-6)
  • Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (6 games; June 15-20)
  • Cedar Rapids Kernels (6 games; June 29-July 4)
  • Peoria Chiefs (6 games; July 20-25)
  • South Bend Cubs (6 games; July 27-August 1)
  • Beloit Snappers (6 games; August 10-15)
  • Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (6 games; August 24-29)
  • Peoria Chiefs (6 games; September 7-12)
  • South Bend Cubs (6 games; September 14-19)

The Major League Baseball 2021 regular season schedule will begin with all 30 clubs playing on Opening Day on Thursday, April 1st. The 2021 season will mark the fourth consecutive season in which all 30 clubs are scheduled to play on traditional Opening Day (including 2020’s original regular season schedule), and Opening Day of the 2021 campaign could also become the first season since 1968 in which every team across the Majors plays their first game of the season on the same day.

For more information on the River Bandits, visit www.RiverBandits.com.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.