President & CEO
Dave Heller is the president and CEO of Main Street Baseball and majority owner of four affiliated minor league baseball teams: the Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League, Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros), the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League, Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals), the Billings Mustangs (Pioneer League, short-season affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds), and the Lowell Spinners (New York - Penn League, short-season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox).
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 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.
"Across Minor League Baseball, many ownership groups bring a level of quality to their operations year in and year out. Main Street Baseball has always been among the standout organizations, but took it to another level in 2016."
-Ballpark Digest, November 18, 2016
In Iowa, the River Bandits sparked a stunning resurgence of baseball, winning three championships since 2011 (no other team has won two), setting (and breaking) the all-time per-game attendance record in the Quad Cities and capturing numerous awards for innovative promotions and ballpark improvements. Immediately upon purchasing the team, Heller rebranded the club and sold ballpark naming rights. Since then, 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, whose readers voted it the best ballpark in Single-A baseball. It was also named one of the top 10 minor league ballparks by Parade Magazine and “the #2 Coolest Minor League Ballpark” by Complex Magazine.
Under Heller’s leadership, the River Bandits have added many fun features to the ballpark, including a new outfield bar, picnic area, five concourse-level “loge boxes,” an 80-foot high-definition ribbon-board, a 20’ x 36’ HD video-board, a playground, birthday room, concessions stand, triple suite, new sound system, and a corn field from where the players are introduced at the game’s outset (after all, it is Iowa)! The Bandits also built the Budweiser Champions Club, a multi-purpose great room with glass garage doors that open/close based on the weather. Today, the team hosts nearly 200 non-baseball events each year.
"All four Main Street Baseball teams are leaders in their leagues, and all four are distinguished by a commitment to providing the best fan experience possible.”
-Ballpark Digest, November 18, 2016
In 2014, the Bandits unveiled their biggest improvement – a new 105-foot tall Ferris wheel, the only one in Minor League Baseball. In 2016, the team added a new 11,000 s.f. deck; in 2017, the Bandits filled it with more than $1.5 million worth of new rides, including two new thrill rides and Iowa’s first-ever double-decker carousel – with all of the proceeds from those rides dedicated to local charities. The team earned Ballpark Digest’s “Best Ballpark Improvement” award five times within ten years and, in 2018, won that publication’s first award for “Best TV Commercial” for a fun ad Heller wrote and directed featuring his two sons.
Heller and the River Bandits love giving back to the community; the team donated more than $1 million in the last two years to area charities and has won multiple U.S. Army Gold Awards for its community service. The team’s “Bandit Scholars” program, which pays an entire year’s college tuition, funds four scholarships – one each for St. Ambrose University, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Black Hawk College and Augustana University – valued at nearly $85,000 annually. The Bandits have also given $350,000 over the past five years to the Genesis Philanthropy Foundation to fund neo-natal intensive care units and free flu vaccinations. Heller and his staff typically log more than 1200 hours of community volunteering. In 2015 and again in 2017, Ballpark Digest honored the River Bandits with an award for “Best Charity Work” in Minor League Baseball, the only team to win that prestigious distinction twice. In 2017, the Midwest League nominated the River Bandits for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, Minor League Baseball’s top honor, given to the team that represents the best of Minor League Baseball.
The Billings Mustangs have also been tremendously successful. In 2014, the team won the Pioneer League Championship. Since Heller purchased the club, it has consistently been first or second in Pioneer League attendance. Indeed, the team has seen increases in every area – from attendance to corporate sponsorships to concessions and merchandise sales to in-game promotions. The club added a 300-foot long zip-line, visible from home plate – the first of its kind in Minor League Baseball! Heller also negotiated a 10-year lease extension with the City of Billings, securing the Mustangs’ future through 2026.
The Mustangs also have won their share of honors. Its General Manager, Gary Roller, earned Pioneer League Executive of the Year honors in 2014. In 2016, the Mustangs won a league-wide award for its charitable work and Ballpark Digest voted the Mustangs’ home, Dehler Park, “the best ballpark in Rookie Ball.” In 2017 and again in 2018, the team earned the Pioneer League’s award for best field.
Heller’s third club, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, is one of the Carolina League’s premier franchises and, under Heller, the club has earned a myriad of awards. Its home, Frawley Stadium, in 2015 was voted best ballpark in Advanced-A baseball by readers of Ballpark Digest. The team also earned accolades from ESPN and Ballpark Digest for Best New Food Item. The Blue Rocks have also won league-wide awards for Marketing & Promotions, Female Executive of the Year, and Community Service. In fact, in each of its five years under Heller, the club earned the prestigious Matt Minker Award from fellow league members for its charitable work.
The Blue Rocks also consistently rank among the league leaders in attendance and sponsorships – and set new records for each. The club has also improved its venue: In 2015, the Rocks replaced the seats in Frawley Stadium and made more than $500,000 worth of structural improvements to the park; since then, the team upgraded the concourse and suite-level flooring, added new dugout flooring, expanded the Batter’s Eye, extended netting and, in 2018, became the first Advanced-A ballpark to feature new energy-efficient LED field lights.
Heller’s fourth club is the Lowell Spinners, a Boston Red Sox affiliate based in Lowell, Mass. In 2017, Ballpark Digest voted its ballpark, LeLacheur Park, “best short-season minor league ballpark.” The Spinners draw nearly 4,000 fans per game, putting them among the league’s leaders in attendance. Since buying the team, Heller has replaced the playing field, added expanded protective netting and a second batting tunnel, and introduced two new amusement rides. He also negotiated a new 10-year lease, reducing the team’s rent while adding $1.7 million in improvements to LeLacheur Park. Today, that ballpark is the first short-season park to boast new LED field lights. A concourse expansion featuring a new two-tiered group area is in the works for 2019.
"The local baseball franchise never has been healthier and more vibrant than it is right now. Heller knows what he's doing."
-Quad-City Times, November, 17, 2015
In addition to his work in baseball, Heller is also a media consultant and campaign strategist. As president of Main Street Communications, an award-winning political media firm, he has compiled the Democratic Party’s best won-loss record in congressional races. His clients have won 15 of 19 general election open seat races for Congress (open seats being the most contested races) and have repeatedly won in the nation’s toughest districts, including now-U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in 2010 and Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), who in 2012 won in a newly redrawn R+13 district, and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who won in a district in which Hillary Clinton garnered just 31% of the vote – the nation’s “reddest” district to be won by a Democrat. Heller has also helped elect many big city mayors, including Baltimore’s Catherine Pugh (D), Cleveland’s Frank Jackson (D), and Louisville’s Greg Fischer (D).
"Heller is well known in baseball circles. With the success he's had and the life he has breathed into his franchises, baseball is only too happy to have him."
-Lowell Sun, June 11, 2016
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 was awarded an Overseas Research Scholarship. He went on to Yale University, where he taught his own undergraduate seminar on 20th Century American politics, before moving to Washington, D.C. Born in Cleveland and raised in Baltimore, Heller and his wife June now live in Davenport, Iowa, with their two sons, Dylan (10) and Cade (8).