St. Louis, MO –
Drivers and baseball fans coming to downtown St. Louis over the next several days will face security, traffic and parking restrictions as Busch Stadium prepares for the 2009 All-Star Game.
Major League Baseball does not allow fans to leave and re-enter ballparks during major events, said the Cardinals' vice president of stadium operations, Joe Abernathy. That means fans who want to smoke will have to wait until after the game. That restriction is in place for events at the stadium on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
The usual restrictions on what items can be brought into the stadium are in place on Sunday and Monday, Abernathy said. But with President Obama in town to throw out the first pitch for the game on Tuesday, those restrictions are tighter.
"The good rule of thumb that we heard from Secret Service so far is, if you can't take it on an airplane, you're not going to be able to bring it in the building that day," Abernathy said.
Nine law enforcement organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will help the St. Louis police department with law enforcement. Police chief Dan Isom would not reveal the exact number of officers downtown.
The department doesn't know how much the extra security requirements will cost, Isom said, other than, "A lot." But the department has re-arranged scheduled vacation days for officers to reduce the amount of overtime needed.
Security will also be tighter on the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The U.S. Coast Guard is setting up a safety zone on the 17 miles of the river between Lock and Dam 27 at the Chain of Rocks and the Jefferson Barracks Bridge. Any vessel that wants to travel that stretch will have to be screened by Coast Guard personnel, and there will be no traffic between 10pm and 11pm on Saturday, July 11 for the fireworks show.
Street closures will start Wednesday. Traffic will be tightest between noon and 4pm on Tuesday during the All-Star parade, said city streets director Todd Waelterman, but his crews will make sure traffic can still move through the city. "We'll be turning some streets around, making them two-way as needed," Waelterman said. "We're going to have crews on the streets with signage to turn little one blocks into two way streets. We're going to be out there. I don't see this as a big problem."
Parking south of the stadium will be tighter, especially south of the stadium, Abernathy said. Major League Baseball needs 500 of the spots in the lots near Poplar Street for its use. Parking that is available will be more expensive - Abernathy said he's heard reports of $25-$30 for lots closest to the stadium.
To help accommodate a crush of fans, MetroLink will run trains every 15 minutes between 9am and 11pm on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday, trains will run every 15 minutes from the start of service until 11pm, and every 20-30 minutes afterward. Service is scheduled to stop around midnight, said spokeswoman Dianne Williams, but the transit agency will continue to operate trains if All-Star events are still going on.
Waelterman also asked drivers to watch out for pedestrians.
"We're going to have a huge influx of people that are flying in, and these people aren't going to have cars," he said. "They're going to be new people, they're going to be looking at all the sites, everybody's going to be gawking. They may not be paying attention as they cross the streets."