The Quad City Steamwheelers put together a nice team effort last Friday to beat the visiting Iowa Barnstormers in their home opener at the TaxSlayer Center.
It also took a team effort to make sure the Steamwheelers were even back in action this season.
QC was dormant in the 2021 season when the TaxSlayer Center was also shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That followed a 2020 campaign that was shuttered after one road game when the coronavirus set in and began two years of issues for the arena football team and the arena in which it plays.
That left Wheelers owner Doug Bland not knowing what the future held for his Indoor Football League franchise. Seeing an enthusiastic crowd fill the lower bowl for last Friday’s victory was a good sign, he said.
“It was great,” said Bland of being back in business. “There were some dark times the last two years wondering if we were going to get back to what we once had. We just kept plugging away and hoping everything was going to work its way out. Obviously, it did and the fans came back to support it.”
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A bounce-back win last Friday was a good sign for the team, which is on a bye this week before heading into next Sunday’s game in Worcester, Mass., against defending IFL champ Massachusetts.
It was also encouraging to see a boisterous crowd of 4,630 flock to downtown Moline to see indoor football action.
“It was a tough weekend with spring breaks, the NCAA March Madness was going on and it was horrible weather — cold and rainy outside — and we still had a respectable crowd,” said Bland of the first of eight home contests. “We wish it would have been more, obviously, but some people are still not wanting to come out.”
The fans who did show their support were almost left without the entertainment option, according to Bland.
A $200,000 investment from the city of Moline that Bland said came from federal grant money was the only thing that kept the lights from staying dark.
“If we wouldn’t have got the funding from the city of Moline, I would have had no other choice but to,” said Bland when asked how close he was to pulling the plug on the franchise. “There was just no way we could have been that deep in the hole and dug ourselves out.”
Bland credited TaxSlayer Center executive director Scott Mullen with helping set up meetings with the city.
“The mayor (Sangeetha Rayapati) and city council in Moline did an amazing job listening to us and came through …….