After more than a decade in development, Ballpark Village is opening to the public on Thursday. A partnership between the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore-based Cordish Companies, the development spans seven city blocks just north of Busch Stadium.
At the heart of Ballpark Village are three anchor tenants: Cardinals Nations, Budweiser Brew House and Fox Sports Midwest Live!, said Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III.
Cardinals Nation is a 30,000 square foot, three-level establishment that features a two-story restaurant, a Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, and ticketed top-deck seating on the roof.
"It's something no sports team has ever done," said DeWitt. He appeared on St. Louis on the Air today to discuss the grand opening, along with Saint Louis University marketing professor and Sports Business Program coordinator Brett Boyle, who pointed out that Busch Stadium was built with Ballpark Village in mind.
The real attraction, Boyle said, is keeping people downtown for more than just a baseball game. “Rather than just coming in for a game and leaving, you could make a weekend of a game ... The downtown area, in my opinion, is on a great trajectory and Ballpark Village is another part of that equation … the improvements that are being made are only going to add to the economic impact overall.”
The three anchor tenants are joined by other businesses, one of which is Drunken Fish. “We’re ecstatic,” said Drunken Fish president and CEO, Munsok So. “It's been kind of a crunch getting everything ready to open tomorrow but ...we will be open.”
Will Ballpark Village be a hit on non-game days?
In order to keep the venue busy, a number of events are scheduled. The calendar currently has about 200 events booked throughout the remainder of the year and DeWitt said he expects more to be scheduled in the coming weeks. These events range from family-friendly daytime activities to late-night concerts. Some will be free, some will not; some include a dress code and others will not.
There are more questions about what effect Ballpark Village will have on current businesses in the area. “People who want to sit down to dinner at a Mike Shannon’s are going to be able to do that, but Ballpark Village offers a different kind of experience that somebody from out of town, especially, is going to want to take in.” said Boyle. “I don’t see [the business at local restaurants] tailing off too much with Ballpark Village.”
Dress Code Controversy
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, several bars and restaurants at Ballpark Village have a dress code similar to ones that have caused controversy in Louisville and Kansas City.
DeWitt told host Don Marsh that he doesn’t think it will be an issue. “[The dress code] largely is enforced after 9:00 p.m. when these venues transition toward more of an adult, night-club-type activity…this venue wears many hats and, depending on the event, it will have a different feel and vibe.”
The dress code, he said, is a way to objectively convey that. Munsok So of the Drunken Fish added that in the years since Drunken Fish has been open in a similar Kansas City development he has had no problems with the dress code.
“One thing about the way Cordish runs their business … is that it’s top-notch,” said So. “They try to make it a family environment to where everybody is welcome. Really, there are no dress code issues that I’ve experienced in the three years I’ve been out there.”
The grand opening kicks off with a free concert by Third Eye Blind on Thursday night and concludes with the opening of the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum and a Ballpark Village Opening Day Rally on Busch Stadium’s infield on Monday, April 7.
St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer with assistance from Amanda Honigfort. It is hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.