Ballpark Village shooting spurs increased security, concerns about economic impact
Baseball fans can expect increased security at Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village this week during the Cardinals’ home stand against Chicago's White Sox and Cubs after a fatal shooting on Sunday at the Budweiser Brew House.
Additional security may ease the fears of some fans according to Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University, but he said it certainly doesn’t send the right message about St. Louis.
“We are fighting an image battle here in St. Louis. To have something like this happen at Ballpark Village, right next to Busch Stadium, as the Cards are in the midst of starting the next construction phase of the village … the timing couldn’t be worse. It creates negative impressions for outsiders and impacts the city’s ability to attract revenue-generating events.”
The shooting Sunday night at a private event left one man, 38-year-old Corey Hall, dead and another injured. Scotty Joseph Lee, 32, of St. Louis was charged on Tuesday and turned himself into police Wednesday morning.
Cardinals fans are expected to generate more than $300 million in direct and indirect economic impact for St. Louis according to projections for the 2018 season from the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Being home to one of the most valuable teams in Major League Baseball is just one of the region’s assets that could suffer from the perception of St. Louis as a crime-ridden city.
Rishe noted the violent protests that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 and the verdict in the Jason Stockley case last fall have been cited as factors in the cancellation of concerts, events and conventions scheduled in St. Louis.
Rishe predicts a small percentage of Cardinals fans will feel less secure following the shooting at Ballpark Village, but he expects most people will view the shooting as an isolated event. He said sports fans everywhere are getting accustomed to increased security measures.
“We feel like it’s become a hassle to go to some sporting events because it’s like going to the airport,” conceded Rishe, “but it’s really something every stadium has to have these days just to insure a basic sense of security and safety for fans.”
Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III told reporters at a news conference this week that members of the Cardinals staff, the Cordish Company, which manages Ballpark Village, and the Delaware North Sportservice hospitality corporation were reviewing all aspects of security at Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium.
Customers are required to pass through metal detectors at Ballpark Village rooftop bars and restaurants facing the stadium only on game days. “We have a number of things we want to strengthen or do better,” DeWitt said, “and that could include increased scanning of guests at Ballpark Village entrances.”
Security at Busch Stadium includes metal detectors at every entrance, police rapid response teams, bomb-sniffing dogs and 300 cameras that are monitored for unusual or potentially dangerous activity. DeWitt also confirmed that there are three layers of security staff at the stadium, from uniformed police officers positioned at the gates and throughout the stadium to plainclothes private security guards who mingle among the crowd.
“Every professional sports team and every major university wants the fan experience to be unrivaled, seamless, and they want fan engagement to be high,” Rishe said. “We kind of take it for granted that one of the basic underpinnings of fans’ enjoyment is feeling safe.”
Follow Melody on Twitter: @melodybird