Anheuser-Busch to join first phase of Ballpark Village

By Alex Fees

St. Louis (KSDK) - The Cardinals and Cordish Companies announced Tuesday the tenant for Phase-1 of Ballpark Village is a familiar name: Anheuser-Busch/InBev.

Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said they have reached a licensing and sponsorship agreement with AB to participate in the $100 million first phase of Ballpark Village.

It will occupy two of the eight blocks that make up Ballpark Village.

"German-inspired cuisine is part of it," said DeWitt, speaking of the Anheuser-Busch/InBev space. "Also beer gardens and a rooftop deck that will have views into Busch Stadium. We believe it's a great way for them to showcase all their brands and great history in St. Louis."

Asked how the project is being paid for, DeWitt said, "The overall project is $100 million and we're still sizing the bonds but it looks like we'll be in the $18 million dollar range."

DeWitt said there is a TIF, or tax-increment financing piece to this project.

"Well the political process is to approve largely a component of this which is the infrastructure, which represents a bond-issuance. The Cardinals and the Cordish Company are actually buying the bonds, but they will be supported by new incremental revenues within the project. And we're privately financing all the rest," said DeWitt.

Cardinals Nation is the name of another live entertainment venue to be included in the project.

"It's going to be a two story restaurant with a lot of Cardinals memorabilia throughout. It will also include a Cardinals Hall of Fame and a Cardinals Museum," said DeWitt. "And it will have actual seating decks on top of it looking into Busch Stadium."

DeWitt said developers are trying to create a St. Louis "living room" effect.

"Up to 5,000 people can be in there with a gigantic 50-foot, big-screen TV that people can watch events, and do special events and do live music," he said.

Cordish Companies will create some of the "live" districts they are known for in other cities. Those include Kansas City Power & Light District, Louisville Fourth Street Live, and The Power Plant & Pier IV in Baltimore.

"So they know how to program these to create these special events that bring people downtown and activate the space. You could imagine a road game and it's maybe a play-off game. And where does everyone want to watch it? Well maybe their living room, but also they might want to come and gather and watch it on a big-screen TV like that and have the supporting infrastructure to handle that viewing," said DeWitt.

Another component of the new Ballpark Village will be dedicated to the team.

"The Cardinals are planning our own venue which will have a two level restaurant, the museum, the Hall-of-Fame, and of course the seating decks as well," said DeWitt.

DeWitt said the Hall-of-Fame concept is something that many clubs feature.

"And we aren't one of them," he said. "And we obviously should be. We're one of the great, historic franchises."

The Cardinals Hall-of-Fame will have a museum component which will display the team's artifacts. DeWitt said currently those artifacts are stored elsewhere.

"They're in storage now and we also have some temporary exhibits that are active and on-going right now," said DeWitt. "They're placed in several areas. One of them is the Clinton Library down in Little Rock, and we have some things in storage. We also have some things scattered around the ballpark."

Construction of Phase-1 of Ballpark Village is expected to get underway later this year, with a possible opening of the project in spring 2014. When completed, the center plaza will feature a retractable roof and be climate controlled when the roof is closed.


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