Dave Heller's Bio
Dave Heller is the president and CEO of Main Street Baseball, LLC, and the Managing Partner of both the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League, Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and the High Desert Mavericks of the California League, Advanced-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Under the leadership of Heller and his partner Bob Herrfeldt, the River Bandits have sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball in the Quad Cities, winning two league championships in the past three seasons, setting new attendance records and capturing numerous awards for their innovative promotions.
Within a month of purchasing the Bandits, Heller sold naming rights to Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal financial services company, in a 20-year deal worth $4.5 million - a huge number for a team operating in one of baseball's smaller markets. Since then, Modern Woodmen Park has earned more accolades than any ballpark in the country. It was voted "the best minor league ballpark in America" by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.com and the Midwest League's best ballpark by Baseball America. It also earned a 5-star rating from BallparkDigest.com, was named one of the two most beautiful ballparks in minor league baseball by USA Today, one of the top 10 in the nation by Parade Magazine, and was selected "the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark in America" by Complex Magazine.
Under Heller's leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun new features to the ballpark, including a new outfield bar, a new picnic area, five concourse-level "loge boxes," an 80-foot long high-definition ribbon-board, a huge new 20' x 36' tall HD videoboard, a new playground, birthday room, additional office and storage space, a new concessions stand and more than a dozen new portable food carts, a Hall of Fame autographed jersey display, an unmatched collection of bobbleheads from across the country and a (sponsored) corn field from which the players are introduced at the game's outset (after all, it is Iowa)!
In 2011, the Bandits unveiled their spectacular new Budweiser "Champions Club," a 2500 s.f. glass-enclosed multi-purpose banquet hall with glass garage doors that open and close depending on the weather. That room has helped increase wedding business by more than 500%, and is regularly sold out during the Christmas season. It was voted by BallparkDigest.com as "the best ballpark renovation under $1 million" (the third time since Heller bought the team it has earned that award!).
This season, the Bandits unveiled their biggest improvement ever - the addition of a brand new 105-foot tall Ferris Wheel! That ride has already transformed the Quad Cities' skyline and become an iconic part of downtown Davenport. In addition, the team is adding a 30-foot tall Drop-N-Twist and a mechanized gyroscope to go with an expanded 300-foot long zip line, six bounce houses and a 25-foot tall rock climbing wall! There are also two new group areas: 50 new swivel-chair seats adjacent to the field and 18 new seats adjacent to the visitor's dugout, as well as four new seats set aside for our nation's veterans (the Hon. Lane Evans Patriot Seats) and a new Birthday Room.
Coming in 2015 are three new themed areas, including a 1,500 s.f. deck featuring a firepit to keep fans warm during April and May, a new river view deck overlooking the Mighty Mississippi in center field and a huge 10,000 s.f. expansion of the third-base concourse.
Since taking over the Bandits, sponsorship sales, suite sales, ticket sales, and concession sales have all seen annual increases. The team's average attendance in its first year under Main Street rose by more than 56%, the largest such increase in baseball, and has climbed to nearly 3,700 fans per game. The Bandits have also led one of sports' most successful rebranding campaigns - merchandise sales after the 2008 rebranding increased more than 400% (and were up an additional 34% in 2009!), sponsorships jumped more than 64% in the first season, and CNBC named the team's logo one of the top eight in minor league baseball. In 2014, the team's home cap was voted the best looking cap in all of Single-A and short-season baseball.
Main Street Baseball has also been a trail-blazer, having hired the Midwest League's only female general manager (Stefanie Brown) then hiring the only African-American GM in minor league baseball. The River Bandits have also consistently had more women in leadership positions than most any team in baseball, and are the only minor league club to have won back-to-back Diversity Economic Impact Engagement (DEIE) Scholarships from major league baseball since MLB started awarding them in 2012.
The River Bandits have been voted Best Family Entertainment by the Quad-City Times for each of the past five years and were recently voted by the River Cities Reader as "The Best Place for An Inexpensive Date that Doesn't Look Like It." The team won the prestigious "Golden Bobblehead" award in 2013 for best charitable promotion in Minor League Baseball for its innovative "Photo Jersey Auction" to benefit Autism Awareness. It also won a "Veeckie Award" from ESPN in 2009 for best minor league promotion ("Tattoo Night") and the "Promotion of the Year" Award from Ballpark Digest the same year for the team's "Mega-Candy Drop," as well as a Gold Award from the U.S. Army for its community service. The team has also won repeated awards for Heller's creative TV and radio ads, which have repeatedly been recognized as among the best in the industry.
In 2011, Main Street Baseball purchased the High Desert Mavericks. Since then, the team has enjoyed a new level of profitability. The team sold naming rights to the ballpark for the first time (it has been rechristened "Heritage Field") and the club's ballpark has seen numerous improvements. Completely redone home and visitors' clubhouses, a new and expanded Team Store, renovated and expanded team offices, a new game-day rental suite, a new batting cage, new umpires' facilities, a repaved parking lot and a newly-painted concourse all have combined to breathe new life and energy into the market, and attract new fans throughout the region.
Heller graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Brown University and earned a Master's Degree in Politics from Oxford University (Nuffield College), where he earned an Overseas Research Scholarship. He went on to Yale University, where he completed his Master's Thesis and taught his own undergraduate seminar on 20th Century American politics. Born in Cleveland, Heller and his wife June live in Davenport, Iowa, and Miami, Florida, with their two sons, Dylan (6) and Cade (3).