Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Halfway Home




New Busch is opening to rave reviews. Keeping the Cardinals in downtown STL marks another step in the continuing revitalization of our city. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen!

However, the total project is only halfway completed. The demolition of Busch II has created the largest vacant land development opportunity in downtown STL since the construction of the Arch, and the open-air style of the new ballpark is creating a whole new set of downtown issues and opportunities.

Busch III is more than just a new ballpark. It is an opportunity to build upon our year round experience in downtown STL. Here are a few suggestions ideas for the ownership group as they build up the neighborhood around our new downtown ballpark.

Before siting buildings for Ballpark Village, there should be a visual analysis completed to be sure we maximize the finished skyline views of downtown from inside the stadium. This view will be our money shot of downtown STL for national television audiences. It would be a shame if a new building blocked the views of the Old Court House or part of the Arch. The mockup version in the image above shows a blocky looking building that might block views of important buildings like the Old Court House. Let's take care when finalizing the site plan to make sure we get the best results possible.

If the visual analysis determines that some areas of Ballpark Village should maintain a lower height profile in order to preserve important views, what about using those spaces for small outdoor recreational uses such as sand volleyball, a mini wiffle ball/cork ball field, convertible to an outdoor ice rink during the wintertime? These could be in view of neighboring Ballpark Village sports bars and restaurants.

Speaking of the BV sports bars and restaurants, since lots of people without tickets will want to soak in the atmosphere of downtown baseball, the Cardinals could wire the closed circuit, commercial free baseball signal from inside the stadium to the neighboring BV sports bars. It would be the next best thing to being there. Large screen projection televisions, combined with the sound of cheers from neighboring Busch III would make a fun, exciting baseball experience.

And, for more neighborhood experiences, what about improving the adjacent stadium garages? A friend of mine is a city police officer who said he spent all day yesterday trying to keep people off of the top of the Stadium East garage. Rather than trying to keep people off of it, let's open it up.

Just like in Chicago, where the rooftops of neighboring buildings are used for bleacher parties to watch ballgames, the same thing could be done with the top of the Stadium East garage and other new BV buildings. It's even conceivable that an air-conditioned sports bar could be built into the second highest floor of the Stadium East garage. Bleacher parties on the roof; a/c on the second floor from the top. Cards ownership and the stadium people could work out a licensing arrangement.

One of the criticisms of downtown sports venues is that they are only open a limited number of dates. There is potential opportunities for those off days.

For some of us non-ticket holders who may wait years to attend a big league game inside new Busch, offer free stadium tours on the off days. And what about having one or two of the stadium stores and restaurants open year round? The stadium can be a draw all year.

And speaking of off-days, if you could get the MLB players to agree, schedule 10-20 Memphis or Springfield Cardinal games a year at new Busch. Offer lower prices, and you'd fill the stadium for more dates.

We can't wait for our chance to see the place in person. In the meantime, does anyone have links for good pictures of the ballpark and the new skyline views?

1 comment:

Michael Allen said...

These are very good ideas. You should try to meet with the Ballpark Village developers and share these ideas face-to-face.