The year was 1999. One year before the turn of the century, and a new millennium was underway. And it was also the year when the St. Louis Cardinals began planning what is now known as Ballpark Village. The planning was formed when the organization looked for ways to expand the area due to the fact that Busch Memorial Stadium was decreasing in quality, and their desire for a new Busch Stadium was on their minds.
After lengthy discussions, both the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Cardinals reached an agreement in which the city would have a percentage stake in the development of the area.
Despite that, over the course of the next decade, numerous events took place that halted the building of it, such as the crash of 2008, a falling real estate market, and overall fading interest in the project from the fans. The empty lot in which the proposed Ballpark Village would be created was called “Lake DeWitt”, named after Cardinals’ owner Bill DeWitt Jr. It wasn’t until February 8th, 2013, that ground was finally broken on the area.
Finally, after all the trials and tribulations, Ballpark Village was completed and opened to the public on March 27th, 2014. Immediately a success, Ballpark Village is a 34,000 square-foot building with four stories, including seats at the top for fans to see the action, and Ballpark Village also famously features the 8,000 square-foot St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum.
However, while the area surrounding Busch Stadium has been revitalized, and it features tens of thousands of visitors monthly, local establishments that have been around downtown for decades are taking a beating from the competition.
To put it nicely: Ballpark Village is leading businesses to closure.
In January 2016, Mike Shannon’s, one of two restaurants named (and founded) by Cardinals legend and announcer Mike Shannon, closed down in St. Louis due to declining business. Harry’s Restaurant & Bar, located at 2144 Market Street, also has closed down, and both restaurants have been a staple of downtown for close to 30 years. According to Harry’s co-owner Tim Pieri, Ballpark Village, just a view blocks east, cut into approximately 70% of their business, thereby leading to the closure.
And although Pieri places the blame on Ballpark Village, not everyone agrees with that accusation.
Dan Kopman, who is the co-founder of Schlafly Beer, believes that while it is sad that notable buildings are closing down, placing the blame strictly on the success of one institution is not right.
“It’s easy to jump to conclusions,” Kopman said.
Believe it or not, in 2015, the restaurant and bar business in St. Louis rose by 4.5 percent during the first nine months of the year (information provided by Missouri Department of Revenue).
And Shannon, as mentioned above having one of his restaurants affected, has no ill feelings towards Ballpark Village.
“It [Mike Shannon’s] was everything that I wanted it to be, a place that people could enjoy before and after the games,” Shannon told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this year. He added by saying having the business for decades had been “a celebration.”
So to some, Ballpark Village has done more harm than good, even if statistics can prove otherwise. After all, it’s only been since March of 2014 that it has even been opened officially. But the area looks busier than it has in years now that such a popular establishment is in place, and sometimes, one business being busy can have a positive effect on others, too.
Only time will tell quite frankly…