Dave Heller is the president and CEO of Main Street Baseball, LLC, and the majority owner and Managing Partner of three minor league baseball teams: the Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League, Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals), the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Mid-Atlantic League, Advanced-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals) and the Billings Mustangs (Pioneer 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.
In the Quad Cities, since Heller took over, the River Bandits have sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball, winning three championships in seven seasons (when no other team won even two), setting the per-game attendance record (they’ve had baseball since 1931!) and earning numerous awards for innovative promotions and ballpark improvements. Over the years, the team has set records for attendance, concessions, group and sponsorship sales. The team’s home, Modern Woodmen Park, has earned as many accolades as any ballpark in the country. It was voted “best minor league ballpark” by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.com and the Midwest League’s best ballpark by Baseball America. It earned a 5-star rating from Ballpark Digest, was named one of the two most beautiful ballparks in the minors by USA Today, one of the top 10 by Parade Magazine and “the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark in America” by Complex Magazine. The team even won an award for best TV commercial!
Under Heller’s leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun new features to the ballpark, including two outfield bars, five concourse-level “loge boxes,” an 80-foot HD ribbon-board, a 36’ x 42’ HD videoboard, new sound system, a playground and a kids’ party room ringed with ten X-Box and PS4 stations. The team also added new concessions stands and food carts, a triple suite, a Hall of Fame autographed jersey display, three new group areas, a special group area for our nation’s veterans, a small solar farm, a permanent home for the Quad-Cities Sports Hall of Fame and a (sponsored) corn field from where the players are introduced at the game’s outset (after all, it is Iowa)!
Heller also helped design and finance the spectacular Budweiser “Champions Club,” a large, multi-purpose banquet hall with glass garage doors that open/close based on the weather. That room helped the club increase wedding business by more than 1,000%; the team now hosts 175 non-baseball events a year.
In 2014, the Bandits unveiled their biggest improvement – a new 105-foot tall Ferris wheel, the first in minor league baseball! That ride transformed the Quad Cities’ skyline and has become an iconic part of downtown Davenport – it, too, was named by Ballpark Digest as “the nation’s best ballpark improvement” (the fifth time in 10 years Main Street Baseball earned that award!). The team also added more than $2 million worth of new rides, including a spinning kids’ coaster, two new thrill rides, a swinging pirate ship, and a 30-foot tall Drop-N-Twist to go with a myriad of bounce houses, a kiddie train and the only double-decker carousel between Chicago and Kansas City.
Heller has also improved the “back of the house,” flood-protecting the entire ballpark, adding three large storage spaces, renovating both the home and visitors’ clubhouses, adding a new weight and workout room, enclosing the batting cages, redoing the playing field and irrigation system, adding new protective netting beyond the ends of the dugouts, expanding the club’s kitchen facilities and making Modern Woodmen Park the first Single-A ballpark in the country to install new, energy-efficient LED lights along with new light poles. No wonder Baseball America named the Quad Cities River Bandits one of the 12 “Most Accomplished Franchises of the 2010s.”
Heller and the River Bandits love giving back to the Quad Cities: the team has donated more than $5 million to area charities, helped raise $101,000 for flood relief, and won multiple U.S. Army Gold Awards for its community service. Its “Bandit Scholars” program, which pays an entire year’s college tuition, funds three such scholarships. In 2015, 2017 and again in 2019, Ballpark Digest honored the River Bandits with its “Commitment to Charity” award in Minor League Baseball, the only team to win that distinction three times (no other club has won twice).
The Billings Mustangs have also been tremendously successful. Since Heller purchased the club, it has consistently ranked among the top three in Pioneer League attendance and has seen increases in every area – from attendance to corporate sponsorships to concessions and merchandise sales to in-game promotions. Heller also negotiated a new 10-year lease extension with the City, securing the Mustangs’ future through 2026.
The team has also earned its share of honors. Its General Manager, Gary Roller, was named Pioneer League Executive of the Year, it has repeatedly earned recognition for its charitable work and league awards for the quality of its playing field. The Mustangs’ home, Dehler Park, was voted by Ballpark Digest “the best minor league ballpark in Rookie Ball.”
Prior to baseball, Heller was one of the Democratic Party's top media consultants and campaign strategists. As president of Main Street Communications, an award-winning political media firm, he compiled the best won-loss record in the Democratic Party helping clients win election to Congress. His clients won 15 out of 19 general election open seat races for Congress (open seats being the most contested races). He also repeatedly helped elect and re-elect Democrats (including many top GOP targets) in some of the nation's toughest House districts, including now-U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in 2010, (now retired) U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), who won in a completely redrawn R+13 district in 2012, and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who repeatedly won re-election in a district in which Hillary Clinton garnered less than 31% of the vote – the nation’s “reddest” district to be won by a Democrat. In 2016, Heller also wrote and produced all of the media for the new mayor of his home town of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh (D), who came from behind to win a hard-fought campaign.
Heller currently sits on the Board of Directors of Genesis Health Systems in the Quad Cities. He 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 was awarded an Overseas Research Scholarship. He went on to Yale University, where he completed his Masters thesis and taught his own undergraduate seminar on 20th Century American politics, before moving to Washington, D.C. Having grown up in Baltimore, Heller and his wife June today live in Davenport, Iowa, with their two sons, Dylan (13) and Cade (10).