We’ve spent a lot of time on the riverfront and downtown the last few weeks. You can’t help but notice those cranes at Ballpark Village, visible from many vantage points. Here are some thoughts on the plans throughout the years, the hope and the reality of tenants announced to date. Hope springs eternal as does every baseball season.
Okay, I'm getting into the sports related posts from 2016. How can you not be optimistic with what Cordish and the Cardinals have proposed for Ballpark Village's 2nd phase.
And then you have the Major League Soccer expansion potential...I'll get to that next.
First some opinions on Ballpark Village (BPV).
Let me get it out of the way and say I, just like nearly everybody in this region, love the St. Louis Cardinals. Baseball is in my blood from the earliest days I can remember. The 1982 and 2011 World Series Championships and the 2006 NLCS were unforgettable moments. Willie McGee, Tom Herr and Yadier Molina are my favorite players. Man, if the Cardinals or Blues ever left the city limits of St. Louis, I'd be crushed. When the Rams left, frankly I was relieved.
I'm a Cards fan, okay. Who isn't? But like Kroenke and Demoff, the Cards/Cordish have tested my loyalty.
Now, I have come to really appreciate Busch Stadium-III...I might even love it. Part of me wished St. Louis would have been the last American city to hold on to it's round, multi-purpose stadium from the 1960's. It was not to be and Busch Stadium-II only lasted a mere 40 years. It didn't save downtown either.
That said, I am not a fan of BPV Phase 1. To each his own, but that whole thing is a massive disappointment to the City of St. Louis and the people who live here. I've tried to walk in there on two separate occasions. I made it for about 10 steps each time. The ridiculous music and the volume at which it was being played gave me immediate social anxiety and I knew I had to get outta there.
Suburban malls and chains don't work very well in St. Louis. This Dave and Busters/carnival/bull-riding stuff is great in Maryland Heights and around casinos, but here it just doesn't work...by itself.
There are too many great, affordable and interesting/unique places to drink and eat in St. Louis and BPV ain't one of em. This is a suburbanite's dream, an entertainment compound surrounded by a fence. It was built for game day visitors and tourists. The fans got what they wanted, but not the city or the people who root down in the city.
I'm not so naive to think that the largest city in the region can't be many things to many people, and I'm glad if BPV rocks your world. But to date it isn't enough to get me excited.
And then there is the MASSIVE surface parking lot that is a scourge on downtown. I started to get cranky with ownership of my favorite sports team. I started to shake my head.
Further, I can't believe the city leaders, Cordish and the Cards bungled the Centene HQ as it went to the inner ring suburb of Clayton, MO (pop. ~16K). St. Louis lost out on its greatest opportunity for new jobs in my lifetime and I mourned that loss.
They blew it. The city blew it. Clayton is nailing it. We lost, they won. I am resentful of that and I shake my head every time I think about the lost potential.
One could argue that what downtown St. Louis needs more than anything is professional, career jobs. That was the chance.
Ugh, have I ruffled your feathers enough? Sorry, but I've got to let the frustration show every now and again.
But, I'm still hopeful and here is why. The Phase 2 site plans are stunning. Modern, beautiful, mixed-use buildings and towers.
A residential tower would cement the stadium into it's current location. You can't sell these amazing living spaces with views of the stadium and then propose demo of Busch 3 in 40 years and move it somewhere else like Busch 2. The Phase 2 commitment would be just that. Commitment to the site and budding history of this great ballpark.
I want to forgive the Cardinals and Cordish for the parking lot, the contemporary country music at volume 11, the mall food and the Centene disaster.
Go Cards. Do the city right this time.